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or loth

[lohth, lohth] /loʊθ, loʊð/
unwilling; reluctant; disinclined; averse:
to be loath to admit a mistake.
Origin of loath
before 900; Middle English loth, lath, Old English lāth hostile, hateful; cognate with Dutch leed, German leid sorry, Old Norse leithr hateful
Related forms
loathness, noun
overloath, adjective
unloath, adjective
unloathly, adverb
Can be confused
loath, loathe, loathsome.
eager. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for loath
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • He was worried and apprehensive, yet the camp lured his mate and she was loath to depart.

    White Fang Jack London
  • Joshua turned and took another step; but Gorman was loath to let him go.

    The Big Tomorrow Paul Lohrman
  • He was only enjoying an interview—a vengeance—he was loath to terminate.

    The Big Tomorrow Paul Lohrman
  • I was loath to leave this historical tin box, but time pressed.

  • He would be loath to die until he had taught her to regret him.

    Mistress Wilding Rafael Sabatini
British Dictionary definitions for loath


(usually foll by to) reluctant or unwilling
nothing loath, willing
Derived Forms
loathness, lothness, noun
Word Origin
Old English lāth (in the sense: hostile); related to Old Norse leithr
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for loath

Old English lað "hated; hateful; hostile; repulsive," from Proto-Germanic *laithaz (cf. Old Saxon, Old Frisian leth "loathsome," Old Norse leiðr "hateful, hostile, loathed;" Middle Dutch lelijc, Dutch leelijk "ugly;" Old High German leid "sorrowful, hateful, offensive, grievous," German Leid "sorrow;" French laid "ugly," from Frankish *laid), from PIE root *leit- "to detest."

Weakened meaning "averse, disinclined" is attested from late 14c. Loath to depart, a line from some long-forgotten song, is recorded since 1580s as a generic term expressive of any tune played at farewells, the sailing of a ship, etc. Related: Loathness.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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