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Loath vs. Loathe

This article is about Loath vs. Loathe — enjoy your reading!

2:21 min read
  Angbeen Chaudhary  —  Grammar Tips
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Elle was loathed to admit that she loathed her mother.

Read the above sentence and ponder for a moment. Does it make sense? What context do you get out of that sentence?

If it is confusing and you can’t seem to figure out the difference in the meanings of two exactly same words used in the above sentence i.e. loathed, worry not. We are here to help. Today we will discuss about a pair of homophones loath and loathe. The above sentence used the past tense of both loath and loathe, and unfortunately for beginners of English, they are exactly similar.

Loath and loathe are a pair of homophones with same pronunciation, almost similar spellings and entirely different meanings. This article will throw light upon the meanings, usage and examples of both of these words.


Loath originated from Old English lāth ‘hostile, spiteful’, of Germanic origin; related to Dutch leed, German Leid ‘sorrow’. Loathe originated from Old English lāthian, of Germanic origin and is related to loath.

Loath as an adjective:

In English language, loath without e is used as an adjective where it means unwilling or reluctant. For example, you might say that you are loath to go spend time with your mean boss outside work. It has synonyms like disinclined, ill-disposed, not in the mood; hesitant; against, averse, opposed, resistant, hostile, antagonistic and resisting etc.

I was loath to leave the party so early.

Loathe as verb:

Loathe with an e at the end is used in English language as a verb where it means to feel intense dislike or disgust for someone or something. For example, if you have a mean boss, you might say that you loathe him. It has synonyms like hate, detest, abhor, despise, abominate, dislike greatly, execrate.

She loathed him on sight.

Loath vs. Loathe


I had traditionally been loath to join a board game unless coerced. [The Brown Daily Herald]

Yet conservatives are loath to credit Harry Truman, who devised the original policy of containment. [BusinessWeek]

I loathe Valentine’s Day. [The Trentonian]

But as much as I loathe technology, I need to know when writing letters will finally become obsolete. [The Maine Campus]

Loath or loathe:

Loath and loathe are both related to each other as both originated from Germanic origins. When you are unwilling to do something, you are loathing it (without an e). When you hate something with all your heart and soul, be it a person, you loathe it (with an e). Remember this by noticing that loathe and hate both have an e at their ends.

Now let’s take a look at the sentence at the start of this article again. It must make sense to you now that Elle was unwilling to admit that she hated her mother.

We hope you weren’t loathed to read this article.


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