How to Define and Use “Loathe”


  • To loathe means to feel repugnance or intense dislike for someone or something.
  • Use loathe as you would love. The verbs function in the same way.

A powerful tool in the hands of someone unskilled is dangerous. Loathe is a strong word, so it’s important to use it properly. To do so, you must understand how it’s defined. Then, you can consider some expert examples.

Loathe is a verb. It means to dislike intensely with intolerance. One dictionary defines it as “to abhor, to feel disgust or aversion for” something or someone. If you loathe something, you don’t want to be around it. Do you remember how strongly the character in Green Eggs and Ham thought he disliked that dish? He didn’t like them “here or there.” He said he wouldn’t like them anywhere. Loathing is stronger than that! By the end of the book, he tries and likes green eggs and ham. A person who loathes something feels such an aversion that persuading him to try it would be nearly impossible.

There are no surprises in how to form the verb loathe in its various tenses. Consult a conjugation chart if you are not familiar with how to conjugate this verb. The past tense of loathe is loathed. Let’s look at some examples to see how strong this word is. A British journal describes how Australians feel about a particular type of amphibian:

They are Australia’s ugliest and most loathed pests. Driving over them is a national pastime and hunters scour the countryside for them at night, clubs in hand — but a team of scientists believe that they may at last have found a way to stop the march of the cane toads for good.

Thomas Hardy captures the sense of intolerance associated with loathing in this line from Jude the Obscure:

For though as a fellow-creature she sympathizes with, and pities me, and even weeps for me, as a husband she cannot endure me—she loathes me—there’s no use in mincing words—she loathes me. . . .

Loathe functions in the same way as love: In a children’s book, Big Monster compares his loathing for Little Monster to various loathsome things: “I loathe you more than chicken pox, more than stinky, sweaty socks, more than garbage in a dump, or splinters sticking in my rump.” Grammatically, you could substitute love for loathe in those lines, though it would result in a rather bizarre declaration of affection.

Be careful how you use loathe. Words have force, and it’s too strong a word for mild cases of disapproval. Unless you feel so much disgust for someone that you cannot stand in his presence, never say that you loathe him. For most people, you probably don’t feel such a marked hatred. In those cases, you might borrow the lyrics of a song by the Plain White T’s: “Hate is a strong word, but I really, really, really don’t like you.”

The post How to Define and Use “Loathe” appeared first on Grammarly Blog.

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