Definition of soap in US English:



  • 1A 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 coloring added.

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

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


[with object]
  • Wash with soap.

    ‘she soaped her face’
    • ‘It was only when he soaped away some of the mud covering the man's waist that he pulled back with a gasp.’
    • ‘It shows a pair of army boots, a discarded uniform, a broad, suntanned face and an arm carelessly soaping a back.’
    • ‘About a minute in, I took them off, soaped them up and rung them out.’
    • ‘While she was soaping and singing in the shower, the phone rang again.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘I soaped up, waking up slowly, thinking of my life lately.’
    • ‘That suggestion did please Howard who went quickly to stand under the shower, soaping himself up with lots of hot water.’
    • ‘She's wrapped a towel around her hair, not wanting to get it wet, and is busy soaping herself up in the steaming shower.’
    • ‘The cars were soaped all over before the uniformed crews used their fire engine hoses to blast the dirt off.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘He heard her soft laugh and then her hands worked on his scalp, soaping and rinsing his hair.’
    • ‘After soaping me up, she let the water totally clean me out, removing the soap and shampoo.’
    • ‘She put it in the sink, ran water on it, and soaped it up, then returned to her guest.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘He scrubbed and soaped and washed and finally just relaxed.’
    • ‘She painstakingly shampooed and soaped a little a time, and every time she would get into contact with the icy water, she'd yelp.’
    • ‘As she stood beneath the warm, tingling spray, she soaped and rinsed her hair twice, as she had always done.’
    • ‘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
    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 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.’
      • ‘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.’


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