verb (used without object)

to form a lather: a soap that lathers well.
to become covered with lather, as a horse.

verb (used with object)

to apply lather to; cover with lather: He lathered his face before shaving.
Informal. to beat or whip.

Origin of lather

before 950; Middle English; Old English lēathor soap; cognate with Old Norse lauthr (Icelandic löthur) lather, foam
Related formslath·er·er, nounun·lath·ered, adjective Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for lathered

Historical Examples of lathered

  • She answered every blow on her lathered hindquarters with an angry hump.

  • I got all lathered up all right, holding myself by force in the chair.

    Inside John Barth

    William W. Stuart

  • More than once I lathered my face with mineral water out of a bottle.

    An African Adventure

    Isaac F. Marcosson

  • I scrubbed and lathered till my nose was red and shining beautifully.

    Miss Primrose

    Roy Rolfe Gilson

  • Our horses lathered and dried and lathered again in the morning sun.

    The Hive

    Will Levington Comfort

British Dictionary definitions for lathered



foam or froth formed by the action of soap or a detergent in water
foam formed by other liquid, such as the sweat of a horse
informal a state of agitation or excitement


to coat or become coated with lather
(intr) to form a lather
Derived Formslathery, adjective

Word Origin for lather

Old English lēathor soap; related to Old Norse lauthr foam
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

Word Origin and History for lathered



Old English lauþr "foam, washing soda," from Proto-Germanic *lauþran (cf. Old Norse lauðr "washing soap, foam"), from PIE *loutro- (cf. Gaulish lautron, Old Irish loathar "bathing tub," Greek louein "to bathe," Latin lavere "to wash"), which is from root *leu(e)- "to wash" + instrumentative suffix *-tro-. The modern noun might be a 16c. redevelopment from the verb. Meaning "violent perspiration" (especially of horses) is from 1650s. Meaning "state of agitation" (such as induces sweating) is from 1839.



Old English laþran, from Proto-Germanic *lauþrjan (cf. Old Norse leyðra "to clean, wash;" see lather (n.)). Related: Lathered; lathering.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Idioms and Phrases with lathered


see in a lather.

The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.