Homonyms – words that sound and look alike but differ in meaning – are tricky things. And with only the “e” at the end of “loathe” to distinguish it from “loath,” it’s no surprise people make mistakes when using these terms. As such, to help you use them correctly, we’ve prepared this handy guide.
“Loath” is an adjective meaning “unwilling” or “reluctant.” It is almost always used in the phrase “loath to,” such as in the following:
I’m loath to miss the MasterChef series finale!
As this sentence shows, “loath to” can be used in place of a word like “unwilling” to indicate that someone is unhappy about doing something.
“Loathe” is a verb meaning “abhor,” “hate,” or “feel disgust for”:
I like Graham Elliot and Joe Bastianichas, but I loathe Gordon Ramsay.
The noun associated with “loathe” is “loathing,” which means “a strong dislike.” We could therefore add to the above by saying:
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I have a powerful loathing for Gordon Ramsay.
What we’re saying is that the MasterChef guys seem nicer than Gordon Ramsay. And we’ll stand by that as much as we do correct spelling.
Summary: Loath or Loathe?
As well as looking similar on paper, “loath” and “loathe” both have negative connotations. We might be “loath to” do something we “loathe” doing, for example. Yet each word has a distinct use, so try not to mix them up:
Loath means unwilling. It is typically used in the phrase “loath to.”
Loathe means to hate or feel disgust for someone.
A key point of difference to remember is that “loath” is an adjective while “loathe” is a verb. As such, if you need a word that describes hating or disliking something, it will always be “loathe” with an “e” at the end.
And if you need any extra help with your word choice in a document, why not try our editing and proofreading services for free today?