Loose or Lose?

by Craig Shrives

What Is the Difference between "Loose" and "Lose"?

"Loose" and "lose" are easy to confuse because of the inconsistency in English pronunciation.
  • "Loose" means not tight or free from constraint. For example:
    • loose trousers
    • loose shirt
    • loose lips
  • "Lose" has three meanings:

    (1) To fail to keep.
    • I will lose weight but also my hair.
    (2) To fail to win.
    • I'm expected to lose this match.
    (3) To fail to make or keep money.
    • I will lose a fortune.
    loose or lose?

    More about "Loose" and "Lose"

    The confusion over "loose" and "lose" is due to the inconsistency in pronouncing words that end "oose" and "ose." For example, loose (LOOSS) rhymes with noose (NOOSS) but not choose (CHOOZ). Listen to how "loose" and "lose" are pronounced:

    More about "Lose" and More Examples

    The word "lose" rhymes with snooze. It has the following meaning:

    (1) Fail to keep (either physically or in an abstract sense), to misplace, fail to make money in a business:
    • If I lose my glasses once more this week, I am going to glue them to my head. correct tick
    • Terry had already lost one family member to the cult. He did not want to lose another. correct tick
    • The surveillance team is likely to lose the target when he enters the park. correct tick
    • "Here, geezer, if you don't shift those clock radios, I'll lose 300 sovs."
    • (UK slang: "shift" = sell / "sovs" = sovereigns = pounds)
    (2) Fail to win:
    • Back in 2002, our pub landlord bet £10,000 on Brazil to lose against Germany in the World Cup final. correct tick
    • If you do not train during the week, you will lose on Saturday. correct tick

    More about "Loose" and More Examples

    "Loose" rhymes with moose. It is an adjective meaning "not tight," "not dense," or "free from constraint." Less commonly, it can be used as a verb meaning "to unleash" (e.g., to loose plagues upon humanity).

    Example sentences with "loose":
    • Watch your footing on this loose gravel. correct tick
    • (Here, "loose" means "not dense" or "not compact.")
    • You are advised to wear a lightweight shirt that is lose fitting. This is important to allow air circulation. wrong cross
    • (This should be "loose fitting.")
    • There is a dangerous dog loose on the street. correct tick
    • (Here, "loose" means "free from constraint.")

    There's a Moose Loose!

    People make mistakes with "loose" and "lose" because of the confusion over pronunciation. If you remember that "loose" rhymes with "moose," you will eliminate this error.


    moose on the loose

    Common Terms with "Loose" and "Lose"

    Here are some common terms with "loose" and "lose":

    Terms with "lose":
    • lose a game
    • lose belly fat
    • lose hope
    • lose hair
    • lose your mind
    • lose weight
    • lose yourself
    Terms with "loose":
    • loose ends
    • loose dress
    • loose fitting
    • loose cannon
    • loose stool
    • loose perm

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