1. a substance used for washing and cleansing purposes, usually made by treating a fat with an alkali, as sodium or potassium hydroxide, and consisting chiefly of the sodium or potassium salts of the acids contained in the fat.
  2. any metallic salt of an acid derived from a fat.
  3. Slang. money, especially as used for bribery in politics.
  4. Slang. Also soaper. soap opera.
verb (used with object)
  1. to rub, cover, lather, or treat with soap.
  1. no soap, Informal. no go: He wanted me to vote for him, but I told him no soap.

Origin of soap

before 1000; Middle English sope, Old English sāpe, cognate with German Seife, Dutch zeep, all < West Germanic (perhaps ≫ Latin sāpō; cf. saponify)
Related formssoap·less, adjectivesoap·like, adjectiveo·ver·soap, verb (used with object)un·soaped, adjective Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

British Dictionary definitions for no soap


  1. a cleaning or emulsifying agent made by reacting animal or vegetable fats or oils with potassium or sodium hydroxide. Soaps often contain colouring matter and perfume and act by emulsifying grease and lowering the surface tension of water, so that it more readily penetrates open materials such as textilesSee also detergent Related adjective: saponaceous
  2. any metallic salt of a fatty acid, such as palmitic or stearic acidSee also metallic soap
  3. slang flattery or persuasive talk (esp in the phrase soft soap)
  4. informal short for soap opera
  5. US and Canadian slang money, esp for bribery
  6. no soap US and Canadian slang not possible or successful
  1. (tr) to apply soap to
  2. (tr often foll by up) slang
    1. to flatter or talk persuasively to
    2. US and Canadianto bribe
Derived Formssoapless, adjectivesoaplike, adjective

Word Origin for soap

Old English sāpe; related to Old High German seipfa, Old French savon, Latin sāpō
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 no soap



Old English sape "soap, salve" (originally a reddish hair dye used by Germanic warriors to give a frightening appearance), from Proto-Germanic *saipon "dripping thing, resin" (cf. Middle Low German sepe, West Frisian sjippe, Dutch zeep, Old High German seiffa, German seife "soap," Old High German seifar "foam," Old English sipian "to drip"), from PIE *soi-bon-, from root *seib- "to pour out, drip, trickle" (cf. Latin sebum "tallow, suet, grease").

Romans and Greeks used oil to clean skin; the Romance language words for "soap" (cf. Italian sapone, French savon, Spanish jabon) are from Late Latin sapo "pomade for coloring the hair" (first mentioned in Pliny), which is a Germanic loan-word, as is Finnish saippua. The meaning "flattery" is recorded from 1853.



1580s, from soap (n.). Related: Soaped; soaping.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

no soap in Medicine


  1. A cleansing agent that is made from a mixture of the sodium salts of various fatty acids of natural oils and fats.
  2. A metallic salt of a fatty acid, as of aluminum or iron.
Related formssoap v.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.

no soap in Science


  1. A substance used for washing or cleaning, consisting of a mixture of sodium or potassium salts of naturally occurring fatty acids. Like detergents, soaps work by surrounding particles of grease or dirt with their molecules, thereby allowing them to be carried away. Unlike detergents, soaps react with the minerals common in most water, forming an insoluble film that remains on fabrics. For this reason soap is not as efficient a cleaner as most detergents. The film is also what causes rings to form in bathtubs. Compare detergent.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

Idioms and Phrases with no soap

no soap

see under no dice.


In addition to the idiom beginning with soap

  • soap opera

also see:

  • no dice (soap)
  • on one's soapbox
  • soft soap
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.