Definition of lather in English:

Share this entry


Pronunciation: /ˈlaT͟Hər/


1A frothy white mass of bubbles produced by soap or a similar cleansing substance when mixed with water.
Example sentences
  • Almost 60 per cent of water was wasted in washing of excess lather from the clothes.
  • He got the soap and began rubbing lather over her back.
  • I lather up soap in the shower and shave my head using that soap lather.
1.1Heavy sweat visible on a horse’s coat as a white foam.
Example sentences
  • 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!
  • Meadow's coat was a dull grey, covered with sweat, lather and blood.
  • Their steeds were coated in lather, after their wild run weaving between the tall ancient trees of Nevermore's forest.
1.2 (a lather) informal A state of agitation or nervous excitement: Larry was worked into a lather and shouted at the mayor
More example sentences
  • The soaring profits had the financial press in a lather of excitement.
  • 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.
  • 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.
agitated, flustered, distressed, worked up, strung out, keyed up, in a state, in a tizzy, in a dither, in a twitter, upset


1.1(With reference to soap or a similar cleansing substance) form or cause to form a frothy white mass of bubbles. [no object] soap will not lather in hard water
More example sentences
  • Remove shower cap and work copious amounts of shampoo through your hair before wetting, then lather well.
  • When heated and rubbed on gold, it lathers and removes dirt.
  • It smells good but doesn't lather thickly.
1.2 [with object] Rub soap onto (a part of the body) until a lather is produced: she was lathering herself languidly beneath the shower
More example sentences
  • Slowly, she lathered her body with the softly scented soap, watching as the water washed it away in rivulets down her arms.
  • 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.
  • She grabbed the soap cake and began lathering it over her body.
1.3Cause (a horse) to become covered with sweat: his horse was lathered up by the end of the day
More example sentences
  • The horse was lathered with sweat, but still had more left.
  • The horse was lathered in sweat, nostrils flaring, gulping for breath.
  • The horses of the dozen riders were lathered, as they galloped across the drawbridge and into the fortress.
1.4 (lather something with) Cover something liberally with (a substance): she lathered a slice of toast with butter
More example sentences
  • 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.
  • I haven't been this burnt since my cousin Alice and I lathered our bellies with baby oil and lay out on the trampoline.
  • 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.
2 [with object] informal Thrash (someone).



Pronunciation: /ˈlaT͟Hərē/
Example sentences
  • The thickened root, a rhizome, can be beaten into a lathery pulp which can be used for soap and shampoo.
  • This lathery and luxurious 8 oz. bottle of shower gel is sure to help cleanse and nourish your skin.
  • Forget the skin drying messiness of foams and lathery gels and the nicks, cuts, shave bumps and irritation.


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'.

  • Old English læthor was ‘washing soda’ or its froth. Of Germanic origin, lather is related to the Old Norse noun lauthr, from an Indo-European root shared by Greek loutron ‘bath’. The sense ‘agitation’ as in get into a lather dates from the early 19th century.

Words that rhyme with lather

farther, father, rather

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: lath·er

Share this entry

What do you find interesting about this word or phrase?

Comments that don't adhere to our Community Guidelines may be moderated or removed.