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

    ‘the soaps are top of the ratings’
    • ‘This surprise declaration was so stunning that local New York television stations broke into their regular broadcasts of soaps and talk shows.’
    • ‘Feeble corporate efforts to encourage family programming would be better directed if advertising dollars did not support immoral sitcoms and soaps.’
    • ‘I was in the country's most popular TV soap.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘We like to see them because we know the difference between the soaps and the talk shows, and we really relate.’
    • ‘Now there was a time when I was actually paid to watch soaps on television.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘In films, soaps, and sitcoms they are often placed in ordinary situations so that we all feel that they are our competition.’
    • ‘Actors complain that reality television and exploitation documentaries are killing off their habitat, outside soaps and the occasional sitcom.’
    • ‘My Mother watches the three main soaps on our televisions religiously.’
    • ‘There are soaps, vacuous chat shows and endless Hollywood films.’
    • ‘Is a schedule weighted towards current affairs and ‘high culture’ better for us than one dominated by soaps and game shows?’
    • ‘Ten years ago, during the week, you could be guaranteed a few soaps, some sitcoms, some current affairs programmes, a holiday show or two.’
    • ‘Michaela had relished the alone time, napping around Lily's schedule, or catching up on the soaps and talk 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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Something more than television soaps and radio talk-shows is needed to address deep-seated attitudes, before they corrode our democracy.’
    • ‘The first programme looks at soaps and how different audiences experience them.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘For many years I had read nothing, glued to the soaps and game shows on TV.’


  • Wash with soap.

    ‘she soaped her face’
    • ‘The cars were soaped all over before the uniformed crews used their fire engine hoses to blast the dirt off.’
    • ‘I soaped up, waking up slowly, thinking of my life lately.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘As she stood beneath the warm, tingling spray, she soaped and rinsed her hair twice, as she had always done.’
    • ‘After soaping me up, she let the water totally clean me out, removing the soap and shampoo.’
    • ‘That suggestion did please Howard who went quickly to stand under the shower, soaping himself up with lots of hot water.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘She's wrapped a towel around her hair, not wanting to get it wet, and is busy soaping herself up in the steaming shower.’
    • ‘She put it in the sink, ran water on it, and soaped it up, then returned to her guest.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘About a minute in, I took them off, soaped them up and rung them out.’
    • ‘He scrubbed and soaped and washed and finally just relaxed.’
    • ‘He heard her soft laugh and then her hands worked on his scalp, soaping and rinsing his hair.’
    • ‘It was only when he soaped away some of the mud covering the man's waist that he pulled back with a gasp.’
    • ‘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.’
    wash, soak, dip, shower, douche, soaping, sponging, toilet
    bathe, give a bath, have a bath, take a bath, wash, clean, soak, shower, douche, freshen up
    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’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘I've tried suggesting things that the three of us would enjoy doing together, 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’
      • ‘There were people that get called an 'acquaintance' but actually you didn't know them 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.’
      • ‘Dave was conducting the language lessons and I didn't know him from a bar of soap.’
      • ‘He didn't know my father from a bar of soap.’
      • ‘I don't know him from a bar of soap but I've enjoyed his photo blog for several years now.’
      • ‘"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.’
      • ‘Even if you don't know him from a bar of soap, you shouldn't miss the chance to hear his story.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘"Nobody generally approaches you with a get-rich-quick scheme by email when they don't know you from a bar of soap."’
      • ‘I like seeing familiar faces every morning, even if I don't actually know them from a bar of soap.’


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