Definition of loath in US English:


(also loth)


  • Reluctant; unwilling.

    ‘I was loath to leave’
    • ‘Most problems arise because we are loth to end our summer displays.’
    • ‘Just because we are loath to see such ruthless selection in everyday life does not mean we should fear it when it comes to choosing those who are to govern us.’
    • ‘But the Indian government is loath to divide an already divided state any further.’
    • ‘And among other things the poor pigeons, I perceive, were loth to leave their houses, but hovered about the balconies till they were some of them burned and fell down.’
    • ‘It's not easy to find regular help where I live and I am loath to let my garden go, but can you suggest what I might do to cut down on the mowing?’
    • ‘I have read a lot of really good posts recently about current affairs and such, so I'm a bit loath to broach similar subjects.’
    • ‘We are loath to admit it, but we don't know how to deal with things that both attract and repulse us.’
    • ‘Too often courts and child welfare professionals are loath to make a judgment as to whether a parent can truly care for a child.’
    • ‘Farmers are loath to invest in improving productivity when they have no title to the land they till.’
    • ‘It made victims reluctant to prosecute, and juries loath to convict.’
    • ‘Naturally, having gone to such pains to acquire new clients, enterprising energy companies are loath to part with them.’
    • ‘But the Northern lad admits it was a job he was initially loath to take.’
    • ‘The ship now needs to be sold, but I would be loth to see it go through the courts as in that case other parties would benefit - and not the men.’
    • ‘Central banks are keen to take decisive action, but they are loth to sacrifice independence, or act in a way that would fuel any growing sense of financial panic.’
    • ‘He is more likely to be on the north-west frontier of Pakistan, a heavily populated area that the west will be loath to attack.’
    • ‘The American players also seem loath to get into the whole thing, although all are aware of what went between Monty and that bunker.’
    • ‘He was loath to be tough on debtors and my mother had to work hard in the shop to compensate for his kind-heartedness.’
    • ‘Now her parents are retired, she has one brother who is a graphic designer, another who is a punk rocker and she is loth to reveal any more details.’
    • ‘Personally, I'm hugely pessimistic about this, but I'm loath to spoil the mood.’
    • ‘He was loth to resolve the questions that overflowed his soul and heart. ‘What, then, am I to blame for it all?’’
    reluctant, unwilling, disinclined, ill-disposed, not in the mood
    View synonyms


Although different in meaning, loath and loathe are often confused. Loath (also spelled loth, although not commonly) is an adjective meaning ‘reluctant or unwilling,’ as in I was loath to leave, whereas loathe is a verb meaning ‘feel intense dislike or disgust for,’ as in she loathed him on sight


Old English lāth ‘hostile, spiteful’, of Germanic origin; related to Dutch leed, German Leid ‘sorrow’.