Definition of lather in English:



  • 1mass noun A frothy white mass of bubbles produced by soap, washing powder, etc. when mixed with water.

    ‘she rinsed off the lather and dried her hands’
    • ‘In a few seconds, she had worked up quite a bit of lather and took the large pitcher of water again and poured it over my hair.’
    • ‘Both the roots and leaves of the Soapwort contain saponin and when stirred in water produce a lather which may be used for washing.’
    • ‘It has the creamiest, frothiest, nicest lather and it makes your skin soft and smell delicious.’
    • ‘She discarded the cloth and began working the girl's hair into a rich lather with scented soap.’
    • ‘After an hour, add enough shampoo to the hair to raise a mild lather, then add water and shampoo as normal.’
    • ‘She made such a splendid lather with the soap that she felt like she was practically wading in it.’
    • ‘It affects the hardness and amount of lather in the soap, but can be drying to the skin.’
    • ‘He got the soap and began rubbing lather over her back.’
    • ‘I lather up soap in the shower and shave my head using that soap lather.’
    • ‘When rinsing out oil from your hair, add shampoo and work it into a lather before rinsing with water - otherwise you'll have to clean up a gooey mess.’
    • ‘By the time she'd fully rinsed the lather off of her body, the shivers had become completely uncontrollable.’
    • ‘There was soap, and bath gel, even hot lather and a shaving razor.’
    • ‘The lather rinses from the hands easily, but gets into the crevices of the face and looks really disgusting.’
    • ‘A few squirts make plenty of lather and it rinses easily.’
    • ‘Almost 60 per cent of water was wasted in washing of excess lather from the clothes.’
    • ‘However, I remember that it was almost impossible to get a lather with soap.’
    • ‘Use soap and lather up for about 10 to 15 seconds (antibacterial soap isn't necessary - any soap will do).’
    • ‘Lather up away from the running water so the lather isn't washed off.’
    • ‘Scrub at the scalp, where the oils are concentrated, and let the lather rinse through the rest of your hair.’
    • ‘If you add a little green dishwashing detergent it will help when washing the blood out of clothes - but don't add too much, or you'll find bubbles and lather everywhere.’
    foam, froth, suds, soapsuds, bubbles
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1 Heavy sweat visible on a horse's coat as a white foam.
      • ‘She had ridden all day, blinded by her anger, and the horse, Bainín, was white with lather.’
      • ‘The horse's flanks were soaked, its face was white with lather where the bridle rubbed, and foamy spit flew from its mouth as it tossed its head.’
      • ‘Their steeds were coated in lather, after their wild run weaving between the tall ancient trees of Nevermore's forest.’
      • ‘Meadow's coat was a dull grey, covered with sweat, lather and blood.’
      • ‘White lather covered the horses' flanks and shoulders, but they tossed their heads energetically, eager to run so hard again - running was such fun for them!’
      • ‘Sweat darkened her golden coat and made white foamy rings where the halter had rubbed the perspiration into lather.’
      sweat, perspiration, moisture
      View synonyms
  • 2a latherinformal A state of agitation or nervous excitement.

    ‘Dad had got into a right lather by the time I got home’
    • ‘My father returned to the town house in a lather, his jaw muscles spastic.’
    • ‘Who had worked himself up into a lather over the issue?’
    • ‘It was an unprecedented reaction to an evening out from Mike, so by the time we arrived on a Friday night in mid-May, I'd managed to work myself up into a lather of anticipation.’
    • ‘Yet the papers whipped themselves into a lather of indignation.’
    • ‘Householders in a terraced street are getting into a lather over the rights and wrongs of hanging laundry across the back alley.’
    • ‘For years these people have worked themselves into a lather about threats to our sovereignty from bureaucrats in Brussels.’
    • ‘More years ago than I care to remember, we worked ourselves into a lather of indignation in student meetings over multinationals, looted funds and bribery in Africa.’
    • ‘When I do get in a lather, it's never my fault: it's the cyclists and pedestrians who are selfish and inconsiderate, not me.’
    • ‘If the regular season doesn't mean all that much, then it's kinda pointless to get in a lather over the preseason.’
    • ‘At home, I don't generally get in a lather about pulpits; but I do here.’
    • ‘The prospect of a new tax on collectors has the secondary art market in a lather, pointing to the fast-falling chunk of sky heading their way.’
    • ‘You save more lives that way, even if the wilfully ignorant of the chattering classes get into a lather because of it.’
    • ‘The racy programming has not just got audiences into a lather.’
    • ‘Most beauty companies work themselves into a lather trying to launch as many products as possible.’
    • ‘We should all be working ourselves into a lather over that.’
    • ‘It was a scientific breakthrough that had a criminal in a lather.’
    • ‘Nevertheless, it has helped add a bit more spice to the recent upsurge of rank and file militancy which has managed to send the mainstream press into such a lather.’
    • ‘The soaring profits had the financial press in a lather of excitement.’
    • ‘With freedom comes responsibility and the kind of disruption that currently has the recording, and to a lesser extent, film industries in such a lather.’
    • ‘Only cricket works itself into such a lather about statistics.’
    panic, nervous state, state of agitation, state of anxiety, fluster, flutter, fret, fuss, frenzy, fever, pother
    View synonyms


  • 1Form or cause to form a lather.

    no object ‘soap will not lather in hard water’
    • ‘It smells good but doesn't lather thickly.’
    • ‘I thought that friction would figure in to it somewhere, given that soap only lathers when stirred up by whatever means.’
    • ‘Bouncing Bet has long been used as a cleaning agent because the roots contain saponin, which lathers with water.’
    • ‘Remove shower cap and work copious amounts of shampoo through your hair before wetting, then lather well.’
    • ‘Channing believed that the hardness of the city's well water made cleaning almost impossible to accomplish, since soap would not lather with water that contained impurities.’
    • ‘When heated and rubbed on gold, it lathers and removes dirt.’
    • ‘Its rotten having to wash in salt water as the soap won't lather in the slightest although it is supposed to be salt water soap.’
    1. 1.1with object Rub soap on to (the body) until a lather is produced.
      ‘she was lathering herself languidly beneath the shower’
      • ‘Kieran had seized on the soap and was lathering away.’
      • ‘He reached for the small bottle of shampoo and proceeded to wash his hair, then took the soap and lathered himself, again luxuriating in taking the time for himself, something he rarely did.’
      • ‘Jess stepped into the shower and went straight for the soap, beginning to lather it over her body; a feeling of cleanliness washed over her almost immediately.’
      • ‘She reached for her shampoo and lathered her hair with it.’
      • ‘Within one hand she lathered her body in preparation.’
      • ‘Slowly, she lathered her body with the softly scented soap, watching as the water washed it away in rivulets down her arms.’
      • ‘She squirted herself a generous amount of shampoo and began lathering her hair with it.’
      • ‘She grabbed the soap cake and began lathering it over her body.’
      • ‘Lost to the sensation of her touch, he closed his eyes and rested as she lathered his body and then rinsed it.’
      • ‘Plunging her hands into the warm water and lathering them with soap, she began to scrub her face.’
      • ‘The hot water felt so soothing while she bathed herself and lathered soap over her body.’
      • ‘After cutting his beard as close as she dared, she lathered his face and shaved it clean, as she'd often done for her father.’
  • 2lather something withwith object Cover something with liberal amounts of (a substance)

    ‘she lathered a slice of toast with butter’
    • ‘On Sunday night after giving Leta a bath I lathered her chubby legs and belly with that lotion and I was instantly reminded of the hospital and the time I spent there.’
    • ‘I haven't been this burnt since my cousin Alice and I lathered our bellies with baby oil and lay out on the trampoline.’
    • ‘My prawn puri was similarly good: four disks of non-greasy flatbread lathered with beautifully creamy coriander-infused sauce and succulent prawns the size of a ping-pong ball.’
    • ‘I lathered my own toothbrush with toothpaste and shoved it my mouth.’
    • ‘The second I sat in it, she began lathering my face with foundation.’
    • ‘His golden hair wasn't lathered with gel, but rather stuck out in messy clumps, urging girls to run their fingers through the shiny tresses.’
    1. 2.1 Spread (a substance) thickly or liberally.
      ‘we lathered the cream on our scones’
      • ‘She advised that I take a stroll into the centre of town where such epicurean delights as sausage suppers lathered in curry sauce were to be had.’
      • ‘The film features naked women lathering themselves with motor oil.’
      • ‘Clothes are bought with men in mind, makeup is lathered on every morning for fear we might meet ‘an eligible’.’
      • ‘It also provides a pretext for lathering government funding on promotions which can only benefit the ruling party.’
      • ‘I arrived in Muker at 7am, the sun was out, so I lathered myself in sun cream so as not to get burned, ten minutes later the rain had washed all the sun cream off again.’
      • ‘‘Good for you, you made a funny,’ I said, lathering the comment in sarcasm.’
      • ‘The donkey enclosure - which you could enter and pat the donkeys - was lathered in warning signs that the donkeys could bite, kick, butt, etc.’
      • ‘Uncle Jack was lathering himself with soap, even his bald head.’
      • ‘My body had been lathered in oil, so that my skin glistened in the sun, like the short gold sword I was using.’
      • ‘His cliches come lathered in irony, layered in meaning.’
      • ‘Finally she burst through the surface and took the oils and scrubs and lathered her body with them.’
      • ‘Grabbing the lotion from my bag I started to lather it on.’
      • ‘I pulled out a bottle of sunblock from my bag and unscrewed the cap, beginning to lather it on.’
      • ‘Allyson turned to face her mother and her mother began lathering on the mascara.’
      • ‘The mask was multi-layered and began with a smothering of vitamin H cream followed by a generous lathering of oil containing vitamins A, D and E.’
      • ‘Sweaty kids lathered in sunscreen jump in, clouding up the water.’
      smear, daub, plaster, slather, lather, apply, put
      View synonyms
  • 3be lathered(of a horse) be covered with sweat.

    ‘the old mare was lathered and I decided it was time for a rest’
    • ‘The horse was lathered with sweat, but still had more left.’
    • ‘The horse was lathered in sweat, nostrils flaring, gulping for breath.’
    • ‘The horses of the dozen riders were lathered, as they galloped across the drawbridge and into the fortress.’
    1. 3.1Northern English informal (of a person) be hot and sweaty.
      ‘It feels like 40C. I'm lathered!’
  • 4informal with object Thrash (someone)

    ‘my mother caught me by the back of the neck and lathered me up the steps’
    hit, beat, flog, whip, horsewhip, scourge, lash, flagellate, flail, strap, birch, cane, belt, leather
    View synonyms


Old English læthor (denoting washing soda or its froth), lēthran (verb), of Germanic origin; related to Old Norse lauthr (noun), from an Indo-European root shared by Greek loutron ‘bath’.