What’s the Difference Between “Lose” and “Loose”?
Lose can only be used as a verb and has several meanings that include: “being unable to keep something” (don’t give me the gift because I will lose it); and “failing to win” (I don’t want my team to lose).
Loose also has many definitions and can function as an adjective (the pants were too loose) or verb (they loosed the knot).
“Lose” or “Loose”: Learn How To Use These Words
Does not knowing the difference between lose and loose cause you to lose your temper? Relax and hang loose, because we’re going to teach you everything about these words, including what they mean, how to use them in a sentence, and how to never (ever) misuse them again.
What Does “Lose” Mean?
Let’s start with the easiest of the two words, lose, which can only be used as a verb. Lose has a handful of different meanings, but most relate to “being unable to retain possession of something, failing to win, or having something or someone taken away from you.”
She asked if I lose my things constantly, and I do.
There was no way I was going to lose this race.
He caused me to lose my trust in the company.
Keep in mind that lose has different verb forms:
Base (infinitive): (To) lose
You’re going to lose your keys if you don’t put them on the keychain.
(Simple) Paste tense: Lost
She lost her keys because she didn’t put them on the keychain.
Past participle: Lost
She had lost her keys because she hadn’t put them on the keychain.
Present participle: Losing
She keeps losing her keys often because she never puts them on the keychain.
Present tense: Lose
I lose my keys often because I never put them on the keychain.
Third-Person Singular: Loses
She loses her keys often because she doesn’t put them on the keychain.
Phrases Including the Word “Lose” and What They Mean
There are many expressions and phrases that contain the word “lose.” Here are a few of them:
1. Lose your temper
“To fail to retain your composure as a result of being angry”
I’m about to give you bad news, but please don’t lose your temper.
Okay, I promise I won’t lose my temper.
2. Lose your mind
“To go insane”
You’re going to lose your mind when you find out what happened.
This puzzle is making me lose my mind.
3. Lose count
“To not be able to remember a total”
I lose count when I am not concentrating
It’s easy to lose count when everyone around you is talking.
4. Lose your way
“To fail to reach one’s destination or become lost”
Don’t lose your way in college; stay focused on your grades!
I never lose my way.
5. Lose sleep over
“To worry excessively about something”
Please don’t lose sleep over this; everything will be okay.
It was only a small mistake; I wouldn't lose sleep over it!
Now that we know what lose means, let’s go over its counterpart: loose.
Do You “Lose a Game” or “Loose a Game”?
Because lose is a verb that means “fail to win,” the correct spelling is lose a game.
- I knew we weren’t going to lose a game with this team.
What Does “Loose” Mean?
Loose almost always functions as an adjective, but can also be used as a verb. Loose has many definitions; we’ll review a few of them.
“Loose” as an Adjective
As an adjective, loose can mean “snug or roomy”; “not tight”; and “not rigidly fastened.”
Whenever I go shopping, I always look for loose sweatpants.
The screws were loose, so the structure collapsed.
The flag flew off because it was hung up too loose.
Loose is also used figuratively to describe something that is “not constrained or strictly structured.”
Luckily, there were only loose guidelines, so the team really let their imaginations run wild.
“Loose” as a Verb
As a verb, loose means “to untie something that was previously fastened or release something that was restrained.”
Loose the knot, please, so we can get this boat ride started.
It can also be used to mean “to speak or express emotions very freely, especially in an uncontrolled way.”
The teacher loosed an angry rant against his disobedient class.
“Loose” as an Adverb
Although not as common, it should be noted that loose can also function as an adverb.
Her clients preferred the fruits to be sold loose.
So, Is It “Looser” or “Loser”?
If you’re describing something as “roomier or less tight,” then you’re looking for the comparative adjective: looser (I needed to find a looser sweater). Loser is a noun that refers to “someone who lost something, like a game or race,” (Second place means I’m the first loser). It’s regularly used as an insult (You’re such a loser, Ben!).
Don’t Lose Your Mind Over “Loose” or “Lose” Ever Again
There’s a lot to remember when it comes to using lose and loose correctly. Just try to keep these two key points in mind:
Loose typically relates to roomy (and both have two “o’s”).
Lose is only ever a verb, while loose can be an adjective or verb (and sometimes as an adverb).
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