Definition of soap in English:



  • 1mass noun A substance used with water for washing and cleaning, made of a compound of natural oils or fats with sodium hydroxide or another strong alkali, and typically having perfume and colouring added.

    ‘a bar of soap’
    • ‘Next, apply a liquid or clean bar of soap and rub your hands together vigorously.’
    • ‘Wet your hands with warm, running water and apply liquid or clean bar soap.’
    • ‘The paint is baked on for durability and these benches can easily be cleaned with soap and water.’
    • ‘There was warm water in the tub with a bar of soap next to it along with a towel and cloth.’
    • ‘Clean the tools with soap and water and throw away all the scrap wallpaper.’
    • ‘My mom's getting on my case to buy some laundry soap.’
    • ‘When you're ready to make the jam, rinse and clean your jars with soap and water and a sponge.’
    • ‘Outside the kitchen there were a few bins of water with soap and a drying towel.’
    • ‘Wash gently with cool or lukewarm water, using a mild antibacterial soap.’
    • ‘I need to find medicine and bandages, soap and disinfectants to clean my wounds.’
    • ‘She pressed her lips together and began cleaning herself with the bar of soap.’
    • ‘He finally reached me and sat down beside me on the bleacher and I could smell the clean scent of soap on him.’
    • ‘The other half of the stores sell scented soap, beaded scarves, or ugly plastic shoes.’
    • ‘The mineral content is so great that one can barely lather soap.’
    • ‘This can make the stone porous and allow it to absorb chemicals, including common substances like soap and perfume.’
    • ‘She rinsed the soap off her hand, and we left the bathroom, laughing.’
    • ‘A plentiful supply of soap, clean towels and nail brushes should be available.’
    • ‘I grinned to myself as I rinsed the soap out of my hair.’
    • ‘I would lather soap and water onto my face every morning and night.’
    • ‘Rescue workers first clean oil off the birds with warm water and mild soap.’
  • 2informal A soap opera.

    ‘the soaps are top of the ratings’
    • ‘In films, soaps, and sitcoms they are often placed in ordinary situations so that we all feel that they are our competition.’
    • ‘Such was the importance of passing on the message, it was considered acceptable to break in to popular programs such as soaps and not wait for the next commercial break or for the end of the show.’
    • ‘The first programme looks at soaps and how different audiences experience them.’
    • ‘For many years I had read nothing, glued to the soaps and game shows on TV.’
    • ‘Prime-time soaps were tops among viewers, and gone were the anthology series and variety shows, with comedies taking a back seat to the soap craze.’
    • ‘This surprise declaration was so stunning that local New York television stations broke into their regular broadcasts of soaps and talk shows.’
    • ‘Actors complain that reality television and exploitation documentaries are killing off their habitat, outside soaps and the occasional sitcom.’
    • ‘Ten years ago, during the week, you could be guaranteed a few soaps, some sitcoms, some current affairs programmes, a holiday show or two.’
    • ‘Is a schedule weighted towards current affairs and ‘high culture’ better for us than one dominated by soaps and game shows?’
    • ‘His father's career as an anchorman and TV news reporter was clearly formative, but his own early career in sitcoms and soaps is likely more crucial.’
    • ‘I was in the country's most popular TV soap.’
    • ‘Michaela had relished the alone time, napping around Lily's schedule, or catching up on the soaps and talk shows on TV.’
    • ‘Now there was a time when I was actually paid to watch soaps on television.’
    • ‘Feeble corporate efforts to encourage family programming would be better directed if advertising dollars did not support immoral sitcoms and soaps.’
    • ‘My Mother watches the three main soaps on our televisions religiously.’
    • ‘To be chosen over such well-established, quality soaps and series is a major coup for us in our first year and we are delighted to have been recognised.’
    • ‘We like to see them because we know the difference between the soaps and the talk shows, and we really relate.’
    • ‘One striking example of this, though not of course unique in British television to soaps, is the way in which the experience of the Second World War is used to provide a model for how to behave.’
    • ‘Something more than television soaps and radio talk-shows is needed to address deep-seated attitudes, before they corrode our democracy.’
    • ‘There are soaps, vacuous chat shows and endless Hollywood films.’


[with object]
  • Wash with soap.

    ‘she soaped her face’
    • ‘He scrubbed and soaped and washed and finally just relaxed.’
    • ‘The cars were soaped all over before the uniformed crews used their fire engine hoses to blast the dirt off.’
    • ‘It shows a pair of army boots, a discarded uniform, a broad, suntanned face and an arm carelessly soaping a back.’
    • ‘While she was soaping and singing in the shower, the phone rang again.’
    • ‘After soaping me up, she let the water totally clean me out, removing the soap and shampoo.’
    • ‘Elliot was soaping his shoulder when he heard his father answer, the sound of a door slamming and a feminine voice squealing salutations up the stairs.’
    • ‘She's wrapped a towel around her hair, not wanting to get it wet, and is busy soaping herself up in the steaming shower.’
    • ‘I nod a greeting toward a woman who is discreetly soaping herself beneath the water's surface, then slosh over to a circle of three others who stand gossiping and eating raw fish heads and coconut from a floating zinc bucket.’
    • ‘As she stood beneath the warm, tingling spray, she soaped and rinsed her hair twice, as she had always done.’
    • ‘She put it in the sink, ran water on it, and soaped it up, then returned to her guest.’
    • ‘He heard her soft laugh and then her hands worked on his scalp, soaping and rinsing his hair.’
    • ‘About a minute in, I took them off, soaped them up and rung them out.’
    • ‘After scratching the hell out of one of my arms while I soaped him and rinsed him, he then went absolutely hog wild drying himself in a towel.’
    • ‘It was only when he soaped away some of the mud covering the man's waist that he pulled back with a gasp.’
    • ‘She painstakingly shampooed and soaped a little a time, and every time she would get into contact with the icy water, she'd yelp.’
    • ‘When I was soaping myself up, I looked at my arm and found a black and blue hand print of Chad's hand on my arm.’
    • ‘Not only do we shower with the pressure as low as reasonable, we have taken to getting wet, turning off the water, soaping ourselves and then turning the water back on for the rinse off.’
    • ‘That suggestion did please Howard who went quickly to stand under the shower, soaping himself up with lots of hot water.’
    • ‘I soaped up, waking up slowly, thinking of my life lately.’
    wash, soak, dip, shower, douche, soaping, sponging, toilet
    View synonyms


  • no soap

    • informal Used to convey that there is no chance of something happening or occurring.

      ‘They needed a writer with some enthusiasm. No soap’
      • ‘I've tried suggesting things that the three of us would enjoy doing together, but no soap.’
      • ‘He is as dialed-back here as I've ever seen him - I kept waiting for one of his typical over-the-top explosions, but no soap.’
      • ‘I have let it go for hours, but no soap.’
      • ‘Nice try, but no soap, Fred is still my candidate of choice.’
  • not know someone from a bar of soap

    • informal Not know or be completely unable to recognize the person in question.

      ‘not one of us knows Kate from a bar of soap’
      • ‘"He doesn't know me from a bar of soap and whatever he says about me, it's all about his own issues," she says.’
      • ‘I like seeing familiar faces every morning, even if I don't actually know them from a bar of soap.’
      • ‘Even if you don't know him from a bar of soap, you shouldn't miss the chance to hear his story.’
      • ‘I don't know him from a bar of soap but I've enjoyed his photo blog for several years now.’
      • ‘He didn't know my father from a bar of soap.’
      • ‘Dave was conducting the language lessons and I didn't know him from a bar of soap.’
      • ‘"Nobody generally approaches you with a get-rich-quick scheme by email when they don't know you from a bar of soap."’
      • ‘There were people that get called an 'acquaintance' but actually you didn't know them from a bar of soap.’
      • ‘I basically just ignored him because I didn't know him from a bar of soap.’
      • ‘I spin around to see who it is, but realize I don't know her from a bar of soap.’
      • ‘There is no way that lady knew me from a bar of soap, and yet she perjures herself by signing her name with that written underneath her signature.’


Old English sāpe, of West Germanic origin; related to Dutch zeep and German Seife. The verb dates from the mid 16th century.