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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. 2016.
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Examples from the Web for loath
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • I am loath to pronounce against anything: but it does force itself upon me that the author of these tracts has drawn a blank.

  • He was loath to part even for a few hours from the captives he prized so highly.

    The Giraffe Hunters Mayne Reid
  • One who is always digging dugouts is loath to leave the habitation which has cost him much labor in order to live in the open.

    My Second Year of the War Frederick Palmer
  • He seemed so anxious for the honour that Shelton was loath to disappoint him.

    The Island Pharisees John Galsworthy
  • Sue was loath to go, fearing she could not get back before you arrived, but you know your Aunt Clay and how 29 autocratic she is.

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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