From Middle English lōth (“displeasing, hateful, unpleasant; horrible, loathsome; evil, malignant; disinclined, unwilling; difficult, troublesome; displeased, dissatisfied”), from Old English lāð, lāþ (“evil; loathsome”), or Old Norse leið, leiðr (“uncomfortable; tired”) from Proto-Germanic *laiþaz (“loath; disgusting, loathsome; averse, reluctant, unwilling; hostile; sad, sorry”), ultimately from Proto-Indo-European *h₂leyt- (“to do something abhorrent or hateful”). The word is cognate with Danish led (“disgusting, loathsome; nasty”), Dutch leed (“sad; (Belgium) angry”), French laid (“ugly; morally corrupt”), Icelandic leiður (“annoyed, vexed; sad; (archaic or poetic) annoying, wearisome”), Italian laido (“filthy, foul; obscene”), Old Frisian leed, Old High German leid (Middle High German leit, modern German leid (“uncomfortable”), Leid (“grief, sorrow, woe; affliction, suffering; harm, injury; wrong”)), Old Saxon lêð, lēth (“evil person or thing”), Swedish led (“bored; tired; (archaic) disgusting, loathsome; evil”).
- Averse, disinclined; reluctant, unwilling.
- I was loath to return to the office without the Henderson file.
- 1485 July 31, Thomas Malory, “Capitulum Quintum”, in [Le Morte Darthur], book IV, [London]: […] [by William Caxton], OCLC 71490786, leaf 62, verso; republished as H[einrich] Oskar Sommer, editor, Le Morte Darthur […], London: Published by David Nutt, […], 1889, OCLC 890162034, lines 10–13, page 124:
- I durſt ſaye that of his age ther is not in this land a better knyghte than he is nor of better condycions and lothe to doo ony wronge / and loth to take ony wronge
- 1678, John Bunyan, The Pilgrim’s Progress from This World, to That which is to Come: […], London: Printed for Nath[aniel] Ponder […], OCLC 228725984; reprinted in The Pilgrim’s Progress (The Noel Douglas Replicas), London: Noel Douglas, […], 1928, OCLC 5190338, page 166:
- Then ſaid Faint-heart, Deliver thy Purſe; but he making no haſte to do it (for he was loth to loſe his Money,) Miſtrust ran up to him, and thruſting his hand into his Pocket, pull'd out thence a bag of Silver.
- 1722, [Eliza] Haywood, Love in Excess: Or, The Fatal Enquiry. A Novel. The Third and Last Part, volume III, 4th corrected edition, London: Printed for W[illiam Rufus] Chetwood, J. Woodman, D. Brown, and S. Chapman, OCLC 79531861, page 199:
- Frankville, whoſe only Fault was raſhneſs, grew almoſt wild at the Recital of ſo unexpected a Misfortune, he knew not for a good while what to believe, loath he was to ſuſpect the Count, but loather to ſuſpect Camilla, yet flew into extremities of Rage againſt both, by turns: […]
- 1822, [Walter Scott], chapter IV, in Peveril of the Peak. [...] In Four Volumes, volume III, Edinburgh: Printed for Archibald Constable and Co.; London: Hurst, Robinson, and Co., OCLC 2392685, page 82:
- "And thereupon I pledge thee," said the young nobleman, "which on any other argument I were loth to do—thinking of Ned as somewhat the cut of a villain."
- 1868, [John Blaikie], “Schools and Schoolmaster, Churches and Parsons, Universities and Professors”, in The Old Times and the New, London: Chapman and Hall, […], OCLC 83267238, page 58:
- Of all the people in the world our countrymen are the loathest to give away their money without some reasonable quid pro quo; […]
- 1881, Dante Gabriel Rossetti, “Alas, So Long!”, in Ballads and Sonnets, London: Ellis and White, […], OCLC 946729536, stanza 2, lines 9–13, pages 297–298:
- Ah! dear one, I've been old so long, / It seems that age is loth to part, / Though days and years have never a song, / And, oh! have they still the art / That warmed the pulses of heart to heart?
- 1905 June 1, A[lberto] Santos-Dumont, “The Pleasures of Ballooning”, in [Henry Chandler Bowen], editor, The Independent, volume LVIII, number 2948, New York, N.Y.: The Independent […], OCLC 4927591, page 1228, column 1:
- When the dawn comes, red and gold and purple one is almost loath to seek the cheery, busy earth again, altho the novelty of landing in who knows what part of Europe affords still another unique pleasure. For many the greatest charm of spherical ballooning lies here.
- 1911 October, Jack London, “The Whale Tooth”, in South Sea Tales, New York, N.Y.: The Macmillan Company, OCLC 5376703, page 61:
- The frizzle-headed man-eaters were loath to leave their fleshpots so long as the harvest of human carcases was plentiful. Sometimes, when the harvest was too plentiful, they imposed on the missionaries by letting the word slip out that on such a day there would be a killing and a barbecue.
- (obsolete) Angry, hostile.
- (obsolete) Loathsome, unpleasant.
- The spelling loath is about four times as common as loth in Britain, and about fifty times as common in the United States.
- The word should not be confused with the related verb loathe.
- loth (chiefly Britain)
- Obsolete spelling of
- 1576, George Whetstone, “The Ortchard of Repentance: […]”, in The Rocke of Regard, Diuided into Foure Parts. [...], Imprinted at London: [By H. Middleton] for Robert Waley, OCLC 837515946; republished as J[ohn] P[ayne] Collier, editor, The Rocke of Regard, Diuided into Foure Parts. [...] (Illustrations of Early English Poetry; vol. 2, no. 2), London: Privately printed, [1867?], OCLC 706027473, page 20:
- To Scriptures read they muſt their leaſure frame, / Then loath they will both luſt and wanton love; […]
- 1736, Andrew Gray, “Sermon VI. Acts xxvi. 18. [...]”, in Great and Precious Promises: or, Some Sermons Concerning the Promises, and the Right Application thereof. […], Glasgow: Printed by William Duncan, […], OCLC 777978355, page 115:
- […] O Hypocrites! ye hope for Enjoyment of Chriſt, but be perſwaded of it, Chriſt ſhall eternally loath you, and ye ſhall eternally loath Chriſt: […]