Lose/Loose

Introduction

People often misspell lose and loose, even native speakers find these two words tricky. On this page, we take a closer look at the usage of these two words.

Oh no, I’ve lost my keys. What am I going to do?

I was wearing loose trousers and they must have fallen out of my pocket.

I hope I didn’t lose anything else.

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Lose

Lose is a verb (lose, losing, lost). It rhymes with choose and snooze, but it is spelt with just one o. Lose has a few different meanings:

  • be unable to find someone or something
Example:
Don’t lose your keys again!
  • fail to win a game or contest
Example:
Manchester united has lost the match.
  • have less of something
Example:
She has lost 10kg.
  • no longer have or keep something
Example:
If they keep behaving this way, they’re going to lose their jobs.

Loose

Loose is usually an adjective. It rhymes with goose and moose. We use the adjective loose to describe:

  • something that is not tied up or enclosed
Example:
Loose dogs roamed the neighbourhood at night.
  • something that is not firmly in place
Example:
The button on her cardigan was loose.
  • items that are not held or tied together, not contained
Example:
There is a pile of loose change on the kitchen bench.
  • clothes that don’t fit closely or tightly
Example:
He wore tight jeans with a loose shirt.
  • something that is not exact
Example:
He gave a loose translation of the Spanish words.

The verb loose (loosing, loosed) is not commonly used. It means set free.

Example:
Someone has loosed the foxes.

The sentence Someone has set the foxes free would be more common.

Use loose as an noun in the phrase on the loose meaning escaped, or set free.

Example:
Lock up the chickens tonight, there are foxes on the loose again.

See also: Lose/Miss