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Loose vs. lose

Lose is only a verb. To lose is to suffer a loss, to be deprived of, to part with, or to fail to keep possession of.

Loose is mainly an adjective used to describe things that are not tightly fitted. Where it is a verb, it means to release—for example, they loosed the dogs on the intruders—but the word is only rarely used this way. It also has a noun sense mainly confined to the idiom on the loose, which means at large. When you need a verb meaning to partially release or to relaxloosen is usually the best choice.

Examples

Lose

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Lose four games in a row in the NFL and you’re pretty much finished. [Wall Street Journal]

Because I was so young and so skint I didn’t have much to lose when I first came to London. [Guardian]

Loose

If loose lending and over-borrowing didn’t cause the housing bubble, what did? [CNBC]

Just imagine what the company’s already cluttered competitive landscape would be like if HBO Go were loosed on the world as a standalone product? [Variety]

Attorneys have pressed that police should have alerted their force sooner to the possibility of a suspect on the loose marked with blood. [Roanoke Times]

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Comments

  1. JohnClark_R6 says:

    Why is this such a common mistake? I am by no means a scholar when it comes to grammar, but this the one that just drives me crazy every time I see it online.

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