Loose or Lose?

What Is the Difference between "Loose" and "Lose"?

homeconfused wordsLoose or Lose?
the quick answer

The Quick Answer

Loose means not tight or free from constraint (e.g., These trousers are loose.)

To lose means:
  • To fail to keep (e.g., I will lose weight but also my hair.)
  • To fail to win (e.g., I'm expected to lose this match.)
  • To fail to make money (e.g., I will lose a fortune.)

Loose or Lose?

There is often confusion over the words loose and lose. This is due to the lack of consistency in pronouncing words that end oose and ose.

For example, loose (LOOSS) rhymes with noose (NOOSS) but not choose (CHOOZ).


The word lose rhymes with snooze. It has the following meaning:
Fail to keep (either physically or in an abstract sense), to misplace, fail to make money in a business:
  • If I lose my glasses once more this week, I am going to glue them to my head.
  • Terry had already lost one family member to the cult.  He did not want to lose another.
  • The surveillance team is likely to lose the target when he enters the park.
  • "Here, geezer, if you don't shift those clock radios, I'll lose 300 sovs."
  • (UK slang: "shift" = sell / "sovs" = sovereigns = pounds)

Fail to win:
  • Back in 2002, our pub landlord bet 10,000 on Brazil to lose against Germany in the World Cup final.
  • If you do not train during the week, you will lose on Saturday.


Loose, which rhymes with moose, is an adjective meaning not tight, not dense, or free from constraint. Less commonly, it can be used as a verb meaning to unleash (e.g., to loose plagues upon humanity).

  • Watch your footing on this loose gravel.
  • (not dense / not compact)
  • Travelers are advised to wear a lightweight shirt that is lose fitting. This is important to allow air circulation.
  • (should be loose fitting)
  • There is a dangerous dog loose on the street.
  • (free from constraint)

A Quick Test

hot grammar tip

Hot Tip

There's a Moose Loose!

People make mistakes with loose and lose because of the confusion over pronunciation.  If you remember that loose rhymes with moose, you will eliminate this error.

moose on the loose

teachers note

A Note from Teacher

Common Terms with Loose/Lose

Here are some common terms with loose and lose:
  • Lose a game
  • Lose belly fat
  • Lose hope
  • Lose hair
  • Lose your mind
  • Lose weight

  • Loose ends
  • Loose dress

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