‘Lath' vs 'Lathe': What's the Difference Between the Two?

By Shanea Patterson, updated on January 18, 2023

Have you been wondering whether to spell the word ‘lath’ or ‘lathe’? We’ve got you covered. We’ll explain that in this article, plus teach you how to use the correct version in a sentence.

The short answer is that they’re both nouns, but ‘lath’ means thin strips of wood. ‘Lathe’ is a spinning machine that carves wood, metal, or other materials.

‘Lath’ vs. ‘Lathe’ – What’s the Difference?

As we just learned, the word ‘lath’ means thin strips of wood.

The word ‘lathe’ refers to a spinning machine that carves wood, metal, or other materials.

These words clearly mean two different things, and they sound similar but not the same (the way a homophone would).

Which One is Correct: ‘Lath’ vs. ‘Lathe’? When to Use Each 

Since you know ‘lath’ and ‘lathe’ are two different words with two different meanings, let’s discuss when to use each.

You already know they’re both real words in the English language, so let’s get into usage.

Use ‘lath’ when you’re referring to actual strips of wood.

Use ‘lathe’ when you’re referring to the machine that carves that wood, or other materials, such as metal.

Definition and Meaning of ‘Lath’ 

Since we’re clear on the differences between the words, let’s take things a step further and define them.

According to Merriam-Webster, the definition of ‘lath’ is a thin, narrow strip of wood that’s nailed to rafters, joists, or studding to make slates, tiles, or plaster.

It also refers to a type of building material in sheets that are used as a base for plaster.

Definition and Meaning of ‘Lathe’ 

According to Merriam-Webster, the definition of ‘lathe’ is a machine that cuts and shapes wood and other materials.

Pronunciation: How to Pronounce ‘Lath’ and ‘Lathe’ 

Unsure of how to pronounce either word? Here’s a short guide.

  • To pronounce ‘lath’ correctly here’s the phonetic spelling: LAATH
  • To pronounce ‘lathe’ correctly here’s the phonetic spelling: LAYDH

How to Use ‘Lath’ in a Sentence 

Now that you know what both words mean and how to pronounce them, let’s look at some examples of how to use them in a sentence. We’ll start with ‘lath.’

  • My husband just bought long strips of ceiling lath to fix the garage.
  • Mrs. Connor is as thin as a lath. You can see his collarbones and everything.
  • The lath has been sitting out in the shed since we moved in. When are you going to use it finally?
  • My fiancé got some lath for some project he’s doing out in the backyard. I hope it’s a shed.
  • That lath was expensive. Why would you buy it now when you know we can’t afford it?
  • There’s a lot of lath out there. What are you going to do with all of that – build a tree house?

How to Use ‘Lathe’ in a Sentence

Now let’s see some examples of how to use ‘lathe’ in a sentence.

  • Be careful when you’re using that lathe. You could lose a finger.
  • Go help John set up the new lathe. It’s a two-person job.
  • We could hear the hum of a lathe from anywhere in the building.
  • Do you need a license to operate a lathe? I’m not sure I know what I’m doing.
  • We have to get a new lathe. The old one isn’t running properly.
  • I passed the test. Now I can operate the lathe like everyone else.

Final Advice on ‘Lath’ and ‘Lathe’ 

To recap, the words ‘lath’ and ‘lathe’ look similar but sound different and mean two different things. Therefore, you should never use them interchangeably.

If you ever forget what you learned, you can always come back here for a quick refresher. We’ve got a whole library of content dedicated to explaining confusing words and phrases in the English language that you might have trouble with. Go check it out.

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Written By:
Shanea Patterson
Shanea Patterson is a writer based in New York and loves writing for brands big and small. She has a master's degree in professional writing from New York University and a bachelor's degree in English from Mercy College.

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