What’s the difference between lose and loose?
People often misspell lose and loose, and even native speakers find these two words tricky. The difference is simple: lose is a verb and loose is an adjective. Keep reading for a detailed explanation of the difference between lose and loose. Don’t forget to check your knowledge in the free interactive exercises.
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.
Lose is a verb (lose – losing – lost). It rhymes with choose and snooze, but it is spelled with just one o. Lose has a few different meanings:
- be unable to find someone or something
- Don’t lose your keys again!
- fail to win a game or contest
- Manchester City lost the match.
- have less of something
- She has lost 10kg.
- no longer have or keep something
- If they keep behaving this way, they’re going to lose their jobs.
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
- Loose dogs roamed the neighbourhood at night.
- something that is not firmly in place
- The button on her cardigan was loose.
- items that are not held or tied together, not contained
- There is a pile of loose change on the kitchen bench.
- clothes that don’t fit closely or tightly
- He wore tight jeans with a loose shirt.
- something that is not exact
- He gave a loose translation of the Spanish words.
The verb loose (loosing – loosed) is not commonly used. It means set free.
- Someone has loosed the foxes.
The sentence Someone has set the foxes free is more typical.
Use loose as an noun in the phrase on the loose meaning escaped, or set free.
- Lock up the chickens tonight, there are foxes on the loose again.
See also: Lose/Miss