Wordwatch Towers

A plain language guide to punctuation, grammar and writing well.

Loathe and loath

with 9 comments

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I loathe broccoli, but I’m loath to waste it.

‘Loathe’ is a verb and means to dislike intensely.

‘Loath’ is an adjective and means unwilling.

‘Loath’ can also be spelt ‘loth’.

To remember the difference, think of something you dislike that begins with ‘e’ (to remind you that ‘loathe’ with the ‘e’ on the end means dislike). Elephants? Earwigs? Exams? Everything?

Then you won’t get it embarrassingly wrong as a politics blogger on the Guardian website so obviously did in the first sentence of his piece:

Naturally, I’m loathe to deliver props to a writer for any other British newspaper, but I happen to know the FT’s Ed Luce…

More commonly confused words and phrases

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9 Responses

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  1. Don’t forget the pronunciation of the ‘th’:

    ‘the’ in ‘loathe’ is voiced, as in ‘bathe’;
    ‘th’ in ‘loath’ is unvoiced, as in ‘bath’.


    20/03/2010 at 10:01 am

    • That’s a really useful addition to this post, Dai. Thanks very much indeed.


      20/03/2010 at 5:07 pm

  2. I loathe E. coli?

    Michael Farrell

    20/03/2010 at 1:27 pm

    • I’m loath to comment.


      20/03/2010 at 5:06 pm

      • Yet your non-comment is fairly bathed in sarcasm.

        Michael Farrell

        20/03/2010 at 5:53 pm

        • Not at all! I loathe sarcasm.


          20/03/2010 at 6:24 pm

  3. Correction from The New York Times’ After Deadline column:

    It’s a reality that some have been loathe to embrace.

    “Loathe” is a verb meaning “detest.” The adjective meaning “reluctant” is “loath.”

    (Ergo, should be ‘loath to embrace’)


    14/04/2011 at 11:17 am

    • I spell the adjective “loth”, not “loath”.


      14/04/2011 at 4:29 pm

      • Hi, there — yes, the Oxford Dictionary of English lists ‘loth’ as a variant spelling. Thanks very much for highlighting that alternative.


        14/04/2011 at 5:07 pm

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