1. foam or froth made by a detergent, especially soap, when stirred or rubbed in water, as by a brush used in shaving or by hands in washing.
  2. foam or froth formed in profuse sweating, as on a horse.
  3. Informal. a state of excitement, agitation, nervous tension, or the like: He was in a lather over my delay.

verb (used without object)

  1. to form a lather: a soap that lathers well.
  2. to become covered with lather, as a horse.

verb (used with object)

  1. to apply lather to; cover with lather: He lathered his face before shaving.
  2. Informal. to beat or whip.


  1. a worker who puts up laths.


  1. foam or froth formed by the action of soap or a detergent in water
  2. foam formed by other liquid, such as the sweat of a horse
  3. informal a state of agitation or excitement


  1. to coat or become coated with lather
  2. (intr) to form a lather

n.Old English lauþr “foam, washing soda,” from Proto-Germanic *lauþran (cf. Old Norse lauðr “washing soap, foam”), from PIE *loutro- (cf. Gaulish lautron, Old Irish loathar “bathing tub,” Greek louein “to bathe,” Latin lavere “to wash”), which is from root *leu(e)- “to wash” + instrumentative suffix *-tro-. The modern noun might be a 16c. redevelopment from the verb. Meaning “violent perspiration” (especially of horses) is from 1650s. Meaning “state of agitation” (such as induces sweating) is from 1839. v.Old English laþran, from Proto-Germanic *lauþrjan (cf. Old Norse leyðra “to clean, wash;” see lather (n.)). Related: Lathered; lathering. see in a lather.

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