Loose and lose are correct words that sound the same but have different meanings and usage. Loose is both used as an adjective and verb, but it’s commonly used as an adjective. When we say loose, it generally means not tight or not attached. Meanwhile, lose as a verb means “to fail to win, to misplace.”
Hence, it’s easy to remember that loose talks about being free and not tight, while lose talks about being defeated or misplacing something.
When to Use Loose
The common meaning of loose as an adjective is not tight or not attached. Furthermore, loose can be used as a noun in the idiom “on the loose.” Other meanings of loose are as follows:
Loose as an Adjective
Not firmly attached in place
I tripped over a loose floorboard.
My tooth feels very loose.
Not attached to anything
The tomatoes are sold loose.
Pick up those loose papers lying on the ground.
Not fitting closely to the body
I prefer loose clothes to tight clothes.
After losing weight, my old dresses are now loose.
Not thoroughly done
In the Shakespeare canon, readers think it was a loose translation of the book.
The loose brushwork made the artwork look mediocre.
Not strictly controlled
The conflict caused a loose alliance of political groups.
The loose arrangement can still be changed.
Not solid; watery
Diarrhea causes loose bowel movements.
Having loose stools can be normal.
Having low morals
A loose woman still deserves respect.
His promiscuity makes him a loose man.
Free from being controlled
Don’t let your dog loose on the street.
An inmate broke loose from the prison yesterday.
Loose as a Noun
We use “on the loose” to describe if a criminal or dangerous animal has escaped from prison or a cage.
The tiger in the zoo was on the loose.
The prisoner who escaped is still on the loose.
When to Use Lose
We use lose as a verb when generally talking about failing to win or not being able to find something or someone. Also, it means to be deprived of and to fail to keep possession of. Remember, the past tense of the verb lose is lost. Other meanings of lose are as follows:
Lose as a Verb
To stop feeling something
Eminem’s “Lose Yourself” was one of his most successful songs.
She lost interest in reading when she was clinically depressed.
To fail to win
Our team lost during the basketball game.
She lost in the spelling bee contest.
To not be able to find someone or something
I lost sight of my younger cousin in the amusement park.
Harold lost his wallet on his way home.
To have something or someone taken away from you
Many workers lost their jobs during the pandemic.
The father lost custody of his child.
To have less of something than you had before
She lost weight after committing to a well-balanced diet.
Hari lost a lot of blood due to a car accident.
To get rid of something
We have to lose the last paragraph in the document.
Lose the hat, and let’s see if your look will be better.
Noah lost her wife last year.
The doctors themselves told the woman that she had lost her baby.
Loose vs. Lose: Is There a Difference?
There’s a difference between loose and lose, despite having the same pronunciation. One trick to remember the difference is loose has two letter o’s, so remember that a longer word is not tight. Associate loose with something positive as in “free, not tight” and lose with something negative as in “to be defeated, to misplace something.”
Cambridge Dictionary. (n.d.) Loose. In https://dictionary.cambridge.org/us/ dictionary. Retrieved from https://dictionary.cambridge.org/dictionary/english/loose
Cambridge Dictionary. (n.d.) Lose. In https://dictionary.cambridge.org/us/ dictionary. Retrieved from https://dictionary.cambridge.org/dictionary/english/lose
Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English Online. (n.d.). Loose. In https://www.ldoceonline.com/ dictionary. Retrieved from https://www.ldoceonline.com/dictionary/loose
Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English Online. (n.d.). Lose. In https://www.ldoceonline.com/ dictionary. Retrieved from https://www.ldoceonline.com/dictionary/lose
Merriam-Webster. (n.d.). Loose. In Merriam-Webster.com dictionary. Retrieved from https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/loose
Merriam-Webster. (n.d.). Loose. In Merriam-Webster.com dictionary. Retrieved from https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/lose