Loose vs. Lose | Meaning, Definition & Examples
Loose and lose are pronounced differently and typically have different grammatical roles.
- Loose (double “o”; pronounced [loo-s]) is an adjective or adverb meaning “not secure” or “not tight.” It can also be used as a verb to mean “release.”
- Lose (one “o”; pronounced [loo-z]) is a verb that can be used to mean “misplace” or “suffer a loss.”
|Examples: Loose in a sentence||Examples: Lose in a sentence|
|I need to fix the door because the handle is loose.||If we lose again, our team will be out of the league.|
|Myles likes his new jeans, even though they are a little loose.||Make sure you don’t lose your house keys.|
Loose as an adjective
Loose, as an adjective, has multiple related meanings. It often functions as the opposite of “tight.”
|Not securely attached/not tight-fitting||The floorboards are coming loose.
Peter’s belt is loose.
|Free from a state of confinement, restraint, or possession||When she arrived at the park, Amanda found a loose dog without an owner.|
|Not held together||Kay has read the book so often that the pages are loose.|
|Not solid/not compact||It was easy to plant the tree because the soil was loose.|
|Lacking in precision||I can’t read the note because the penmanship is loose.|
|Lacking in control or restraint (sometimes moral restraint)||He is a loose man with a loose tongue.|
|Flexible or relaxed||Joe doesn’t like to worry; he prefers to stay loose.|
Loose as a verb
Loose, as a verb, refers to the act of making something less tight or rigid. It can also be used as part of the expression “let loose” to refer to the act of freeing something from restraint.
More uses of loose
Loose is also used as an adjective or adverb in a range of expressions.
|All hell breaks loose in the streets when a city-wide power outage occurs.||Chaos ensues|
|Luckily, I had loose change for the parking meter.||Coins of little monetary value|
|I wouldn’t confide in Ellie if I were you; she’s quite loose-lipped.||Unable to keep a secret/be discreet|
|We didn’t invite Scott to the party because he’s a loose cannon.||An irrational or impulsive person|
|When my dog gets excited, he acts like he has a screw loose.||Is mentally unsound|
Lose is a verb
Lose is a verb that can be used to mean “misplace” or to refer to a failure to maintain something.
Lose can be used to mean “suffer a loss.” In the context of a game, it’s the opposite of “win.”
Lose can also be used to refer to the act of getting rid of something (whether deliberately or not).
|You’ll lose face if Mark finds out you’ve been dishonest.||Lose another person’s respect|
|Ava didn’t lose heart when she came last in the talent show.||Become discouraged|
|Ken said he would lose respect for me if I didn’t vote in the election.||Respect another person less than one previously did|
|Sheila said she wouldn’t lose sleep over the customer’s complaints.||Worry excessively about|
|It’s understandable to lose your nerve when you have to give a speech in front of a large group.||Become afraid|
|Try to remain calm and not lose your temper.||Become angry|
|Yasmin will lose her mind when she finds out that you lost her pet cat.||Act in an irrational or unbalanced manner|
Looser or loser
Loser is a noun used to describe a person who loses a game or competition. It’s the opposite of “winner.” It can also be used in informal contexts as an insult. Looser, meanwhile, is a comparative adjective meaning “more loose.”
Worksheet: Loose vs. lose
You can test your knowledge of the difference between “loose” and “lose” with the worksheet below. Fill in either “loose” or “lose” in each sentence.
- Allie couldn’t run fast because her sneakers were ______.
- When the school bell rang, the children were let ______.
- It’s easy to ______ something as small as an earring.
- Amara said she wouldn’t ______ sleep over the job application.
- Diego didn’t want to ______ the ______ change in his pocket, so he put it in his wallet.
- Allie couldn’t run fast because her sneakers were loose.
- “Loose” is used here as an adjective meaning “not tight.”
- When the school bell rang, the children were let loose.
- “Loose” is used here as part of the idiom “let loose,” meaning “let free.”
- It’s easy to lose something as small as an earring.
- The verb “lose” is used here to mean “misplace.”
- Amara said she wouldn’t lose sleep over the job application.
- In this instance, “lose” is used to complete the expression “lose sleep over.” The expression is used to indicate a lack of care about a specific topic.
- Diego didn’t want to lose the loose change in his pocket, so he put it in his wallet.
- In the first instance, the verb “lose” meaning “misplace” is correct. In the second instance, the adjective “loose” is used to complete the noun phrase “loose change” meaning “coins of little monetary value.”
Other interesting language articles
If you want to know more about commonly confused words, definitions, and differences between US and UK spellings, make sure to check out some of our other language articles with explanations, examples, and quizzes.
US vs. UK spellings
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