Definition of lather in US English:



  • 1A frothy white mass of bubbles produced by soap or a similar cleansing substance when mixed with water.

    • ‘She made such a splendid lather with the soap that she felt like she was practically wading in it.’
    • ‘Both the roots and leaves of the Soapwort contain saponin and when stirred in water produce a lather which may be used for washing.’
    • ‘Lather up away from the running water so the lather isn't washed off.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Almost 60 per cent of water was wasted in washing of excess lather from the clothes.’
    • ‘Scrub at the scalp, where the oils are concentrated, and let the lather rinse through the rest of your hair.’
    • ‘Use soap and lather up for about 10 to 15 seconds (antibacterial soap isn't necessary - any soap will do).’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘The lather rinses from the hands easily, but gets into the crevices of the face and looks really disgusting.’
    • ‘After an hour, add enough shampoo to the hair to raise a mild lather, then add water and shampoo as normal.’
    • ‘However, I remember that it was almost impossible to get a lather with soap.’
    • ‘It affects the hardness and amount of lather in the soap, but can be drying to the skin.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘There was soap, and bath gel, even hot lather and a shaving razor.’
    • ‘He got the soap and began rubbing lather over her back.’
    • ‘By the time she'd fully rinsed the lather off of her body, the shivers had become completely uncontrollable.’
    • ‘A few squirts make plenty of lather and it rinses easily.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘I lather up soap in the shower and shave my head using that soap lather.’
    foam, froth, suds, soapsuds, bubbles
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    1. 1.1 Heavy sweat visible on a horse's coat as a white foam.
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Sweat darkened her golden coat and made white foamy rings where the halter had rubbed the perspiration into lather.’
      • ‘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!’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘She had ridden all day, blinded by her anger, and the horse, Bainín, was white with lather.’
      sweat, perspiration, moisture
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  • 2a latherinformal A state of agitation or nervous excitement.

    ‘Larry was worked into a lather and shouted at the mayor’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘If the regular season doesn't mean all that much, then it's kinda pointless to get in a lather over the preseason.’
    • ‘The soaring profits had the financial press in a lather of excitement.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Who had worked himself up into a lather over the issue?’
    • ‘Only cricket works itself into such a lather about statistics.’
    • ‘We should all be working ourselves into a lather over that.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘For years these people have worked themselves into a lather about threats to our sovereignty from bureaucrats in Brussels.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘At home, I don't generally get in a lather about pulpits; but I do here.’
    • ‘The racy programming has not just got audiences into a lather.’
    • ‘It was a scientific breakthrough that had a criminal in a lather.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘You save more lives that way, even if the wilfully ignorant of the chattering classes get into a lather because of it.’
    • ‘Householders in a terraced street are getting into a lather over the rights and wrongs of hanging laundry across the back alley.’
    • ‘Most beauty companies work themselves into a lather trying to launch as many products as possible.’
    • ‘Yet the papers whipped themselves into a lather of indignation.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘My father returned to the town house in a lather, his jaw muscles spastic.’
    panic, nervous state, state of agitation, state of anxiety, fluster, flutter, fret, fuss, frenzy, fever, pother
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  • 1no object (with reference to soap or a similar cleansing substance) form or cause to form a frothy white mass of bubbles.

    ‘soap will not lather in hard water’
    • ‘Bouncing Bet has long been used as a cleaning agent because the roots contain saponin, which lathers with water.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘I thought that friction would figure in to it somewhere, given that soap only lathers when stirred up by whatever means.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘It smells good but doesn't lather thickly.’
    • ‘Remove shower cap and work copious amounts of shampoo through your hair before wetting, then lather well.’
    1. 1.1with object Rub soap onto (a part of the body) until a lather is produced.
      ‘she was lathering herself languidly beneath the shower’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Within one hand she lathered her body in preparation.’
      • ‘Lost to the sensation of her touch, he closed his eyes and rested as she lathered his body and then rinsed it.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘She reached for her shampoo and lathered her hair with it.’
      • ‘She grabbed the soap cake and began lathering it over her body.’
      • ‘Plunging her hands into the warm water and lathering them with soap, she began to scrub her face.’
  • 2lather something withwith object Cover something with liberal amounts of (a substance)

    ‘she lathered a slice of toast with butter’
    • ‘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 haven't been this burnt since my cousin Alice and I lathered our bellies with baby oil and lay out on the trampoline.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘The second I sat in it, she began lathering my face with foundation.’
    • ‘I lathered my own toothbrush with toothpaste and shoved it my mouth.’
    • ‘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.’
  • 3(of a horse) be covered with sweat.

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

    hit, beat, flog, whip, horsewhip, scourge, lash, flagellate, flail, strap, birch, cane, belt, leather
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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’.