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[loos] /lus/
adjective, looser, loosest.
free or released from fastening or attachment:
a loose end.
free from anything that binds or restrains; unfettered:
loose cats prowling around in alleyways at night.
uncombined, as a chemical element.
not bound together:
to wear one's hair loose.
not put up in a package or other container:
loose mushrooms.
available for disposal; unused; unappropriated:
loose funds.
lacking in reticence or power of restraint:
a loose tongue.
lax, as the bowels.
lacking moral restraint or integrity; notorious for his loose character.
sexually promiscuous or immoral; unchaste.
not firm, taut, or rigid:
a loose tooth; a loose rein.
relaxed or limber in nature:
He runs with a loose, open stride.
not fitting closely or tightly:
a loose sweater.
not close or compact in structure or arrangement; having spaces between the parts; open:
a loose weave.
having few restraining factors between associated constituents and allowing ample freedom for independent action:
a loose federation of city-states.
not cohering:
loose sand.
not strict, exact, or precise:
a loose interpretation of the law.
  1. having the players on a team positioned at fairly wide intervals, as in a football formation.
  2. (of a ball, hockey puck, etc.) not in the possession of either team; out of player control.
in a loose manner; loosely (usually used in combination):
verb (used with object), loosed, loosing.
to let loose; free from bonds or restraint.
to release, as from constraint, obligation, or penalty.
Chiefly Nautical. to set free from fastening or attachment:
to loose a boat from its moorings.
to unfasten, undo, or untie, as a bond, fetter, or knot.
to shoot; discharge; let fly:
to loose missiles at the invaders.
to make less tight; slacken or relax.
to render less firmly fixed; lessen an attachment; loosen.
verb (used without object), loosed, loosing.
to let go a hold.
to hoist anchor; get under way.
to shoot or let fly an arrow, bullet, etc. (often followed by off):
to loose off at a flock of ducks.
Obsolete. to become loose; loosen.
break loose, to free oneself; escape:
The convicts broke loose.
cast loose,
  1. to loosen or unfasten, as a ship from a mooring.
  2. to send forth; set adrift or free:
    He was cast loose at an early age to make his own way in the world.
cut loose,
  1. to release from domination or control.
  2. to become free, independent, etc.
  3. to revel without restraint:
    After the rodeo they headed into town to cut loose.
hang / stay loose, Slang. to remain relaxed and unperturbed.
let loose,
  1. to free or become free.
  2. to yield; give way:
    The guardrail let loose and we very nearly plunged over the edge.
on the loose,
  1. free; unconfined, as, especially, an escaped convict or circus animal.
  2. behaving in an unrestrained or dissolute way:
    a bachelor on the loose.
turn loose, to release or free, as from confinement:
The teacher turned the children loose after the class.
Origin of loose
1175-1225; (adj.) Middle English los, loos < Old Norse lauss loose, free, empty; cognate with Old English lēas (see -less), Dutch, German los loose, free; (v.) Middle English leowsen, lousen, derivative of the adj.
Related forms
loosely, adverb
looseness, noun
overloose, adjective
overloosely, adverb
overlooseness, noun
Can be confused
loose, loosen, lose, loss.
2. unbound, untied, unrestricted, unconfined. 10. libertine, dissolute, licentious. 17. vague, general, indefinite. 20. loosen, unbind. 21. liberate. 25. ease.
1. bound. 10. chaste. 25. tighten. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for cast loose
Historical Examples
  • Still the crew, exposed to the danger of the ocean in open boats, and often cast loose miles from shore, were in serious danger.

  • He cast loose the painter of the launch, and with all his strength shoved it clear.

    The White Mice Richard Harding Davis
  • The Carondelet cast loose and steamed slowly down the river.

    From Fort Henry to Corinth Manning Ferguson Force
  • We ran into the water, and cast loose the body; but our undertaking had been useless.

    A Voyage round the World W.H.G. Kingston
  • There was not time to raise steam—only to cast loose the guns for action.

    Admiral Farragut A. T. Mahan
  • Saunders, slip out and cast loose the fore topmast staysail.

    Overdue Harry Collingwood
  • Then the Eskimo women and crews stepped in, and the stern ropes were cast loose.

    The Giant of the North R.M. Ballantyne
  • When this is done, the carcase is cast loose, and the head is emptied, and let go also.

    Taking Tales W.H.G. Kingston
  • Already the majority of the lashings had been cast loose, and a few cuts with a knife severed what remained.

    Roger the Bold F. S. Brereton
  • cast loose that shovel from under the thwart, Brace, my lad,” he said.

    Old Gold George Manville Fenn
British Dictionary definitions for cast loose


free or released from confinement or restraint
not close, compact, or tight in structure or arrangement
not fitted or fitting closely: loose clothing is cooler
not bundled, packaged, fastened, or put in a container: loose nails
inexact; imprecise: a loose translation
(of funds, cash, etc) not allocated or locked away; readily available
  1. (esp of women) promiscuous or easy
  2. (of attitudes, ways of life, etc) immoral or dissolute
lacking a sense of responsibility or propriety: loose talk
  1. (of the bowels) emptying easily, esp excessively; lax
  2. (of a cough) accompanied by phlegm, mucus, etc
(of a dye or dyed article) fading as a result of washing; not fast
(informal, mainly US & Canadian) very relaxed; easy
(rugby) the loose, the part of play when the forwards close round the ball in a ruck or loose scrum See scrum
on the loose
  1. free from confinement or restraint
  2. (informal) on a spree
  1. in a loose manner; loosely
  2. (in combination): loose-fitting
(informal, mainly US) hang loose, to behave in a relaxed, easy fashion
(transitive) to set free or release, as from confinement, restraint, or obligation
(transitive) to unfasten or untie
to make or become less strict, tight, firmly attached, compact, etc
when intr, often foll by off. to let fly (a bullet, arrow, or other missile)
Derived Forms
loosely, adverb
looseness, noun
Word Origin
C13 (in the sense: not bound): from Old Norse lauss free; related to Old English lēas free from, -less
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for cast loose



early 13c., "not securely fixed;" c.1300, "unbound," from Old Norse lauss "loose, free, vacant, dissolute," cognate with Old English leas "devoid of, false, feigned, incorrect," from Proto-Germanic *lausaz (cf. Danish løs "loose, untied," Swedish lös "loose, movable, detached," Middle Dutch, German los "loose, free," Gothic laus "empty, vain"), from PIE *leu- "to loosen, divide, cut apart" (see lose). Meaning "not clinging, slack" is mid-15c. Meaning "not bundled" is late 15c. Sense of "unchaste, immoral" is recorded from late 15c. Meaning "at liberty, free from obligation" is 1550s. Sense of "rambling, disconnected" is from 1680s. Figurative sense of loose cannon was in use by 1896, probably from celebrated image in a popular story by Hugo:

You can reason with a bull dog, astonish a bull, fascinate a boa, frighten a tiger, soften a lion; no resource with such a monster as a loose cannon. You cannot kill it, it is dead; and at the same time it lives. It lives with a sinister life which comes from the infinite. It is moved by the ship, which is moved by the sea, which is moved by the wind. This exterminator is a plaything. [Victor Hugo, "Ninety Three"]
Loose end in reference to something unfinished, undecided, unguarded is from 1540s; to be at loose ends is from 1807. Phrase on the loose "free, unrestrained" is from 1749 (upon the loose).


early 13c, "to set free," from loose (adj.). Meaning "to undo, untie, unfasten" is 14c. Related: Loosed; loosing.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Slang definitions & phrases for cast loose



  1. Relaxed; easy; cool: No wonder you guys were really loose/ You are loose in the rush, misty and safe (1950s+ Cool talk)
  2. Sexually promiscuous (1595+)

Related Terms

all hell broke loose, hang loose, a screw loose

The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D.
Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers.
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Idioms and Phrases with cast loose

cast loose

Also,cast adrift. Let go, freed, as in After Rob was suspended from boarding school, he was cast loose with nowhere to go, or Selling her home meant she was cast adrift with no financial ties or responsibilities. Originally a nautical term for releasing a vessel, this idiom was being used figuratively by the late 1500s.
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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