At a Loose End (Origin)

What Is the Origin of the Saying "At a Loose End"?

To be at a loose end means to have nothing to do. It is a nautical term, which refers to a time when a ship's captain would task idle sailors (i.e., those with nothing to do) with checking the ends of rigging ropes to ensure none had come loose.

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At a Loose End (Origin)

Examples of Use:

  • The concert has been cancelled, so I'm at loose end tonight.
  • I'm at a loose end this evening. Do you want to go for a walk?
  • You wouldn't be at a loose end if you started your homework!

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This page was written by Craig Shrives.