Loath or Loathe?

by Craig Shrives

Loath or Loathe?

What is the difference between "loath" and "loathe"?
  • "Loath" means "unwilling."
    • He is loath to take a bath.
    • ("Loath" is followed by "to." It rhymes with "both.")
  • "To loathe" means "to hate."
    • Dexter loathes bath night.
    • ("Loathe" is not followed by "to." It rhymes with "betroth.")
loath or loathe?

More about Loath and Loathe

Writers occasionally confuse "loath" and "loathe." Their meanings are related as they both relate to not liking something.

Loathe

"Loathe" is a verb meaning "to hate." In fact, many consider it even stronger than "to hate."  It can also be translated as "to hate intensely."

Examples:
  • She will eat just about anything, but she loathes celery.
  • I loved the Army as an institution and loathed every single thing it required me to do.

Loath

Loath is an adjective meaning "unwilling."

Examples:
  • She is loath to join because her friends play for a rival team.
  • Magazines and newspapers are loath to discuss these types of deals publicly.
  • At daybreak, when loathe to rise, have this thought in thy mind: I am rising for a man's work.
  • (This should be "loath.")

Confusion Also Occurs in Speech

People confuse "loath" and "loathe" even when talking. This will help:
  • "Loath" ends in a hard "th" sound. It rhymes with "oath" or "both."
  • "Loathe" ends in a soft "th" sound. It rhymes with "betroth."
Interactive Exercise
Here are three randomly selected questions from a larger exercise, which can be edited, printed to create an exercise worksheet, or sent via email to friends or students.

See Also

adverse or averse? affect or effect? appraise or apprise? avenge or revenge? bare or bear? complement or compliment? dependant or dependent? discreet or discrete? disinterested or uninterested? e.g. or i.e.? envy or jealousy? imply or infer? its or it's? material or materiel? poisonous or venomous? practice or practise? principal or principle? tenant or tenet? who's or whose? What are adjectives? What are verbs? List of easily confused words