The Red Pen: “Loath” vs. “Loathe”

We Need to Talk About Grammar is a weekly feature in which I complain about grammatical mistakes I encounter all too often. Feel free to commiserate below, and check out the archives here!

Ugh, I know he’s right, but I’m loathe to agree with someone as odious as he is. ERRRRRR.

(That was supposed to be a buzzer noise if it wasn’t clear.)

I think loath is something that people must hear in speech, and then not realize that loath and loathe are different words.

Loath – Adjective. Unwilling; resistant. Pronounced /loʊθ/
Loathe – Verb. To feel intense disgust for. Pronounced /loʊð/

The definitions are somewhat similar, which could also account for the confusion. If you were loath to do something, you would probably feel at least some disgust at the thought of doing it, right?

Anyway, just remember that loath is pronounced with the same “th” sound that you’d hear in moth or broth (symbolized by θ), whereas loathe is pronounced with the same “th” sound as you’d find in bathe or father (symbolized by ð).

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