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[looz] /luz/
verb (used with object), lost, losing.
to come to be without (something in one's possession or care), through accident, theft, etc., so that there is little or no prospect of recovery:
I'm sure I've merely misplaced my hat, not lost it.
to fail inadvertently to retain (something) in such a way that it cannot be immediately recovered:
I just lost a dime under this sofa.
to suffer the deprivation of:
to lose one's job; to lose one's life.
to be bereaved of by death:
to lose a sister.
to fail to keep, preserve, or maintain:
to lose one's balance; to lose one's figure.
(of a clock or watch) to run slower by:
The watch loses three minutes a day.
to give up; forfeit the possession of:
to lose a fortune at the gaming table.
to get rid of:
to lose one's fear of the dark; to lose weight; She needs to lose those bangs!
to bring to destruction or ruin (usually used passively):
Ship and crew were lost.
to condemn to hell; damn.
to have slip from sight, hearing, attention, etc.:
to lose him in the crowd.
to stray from or become ignorant of (one's way, directions, etc.):
to lose one's bearings.
to leave far behind in a pursuit, race, etc.; outstrip:
She managed to lose the other runners on the final lap of the race.
to use to no purpose; waste:
to lose time in waiting.
to fail to have, get, catch, etc.; miss:
to lose a bargain.
to fail to win (a prize, stake, etc.):
to lose a bet.
to be defeated in (a game, lawsuit, battle, etc.):
He has lost very few cases in his career as a lawyer.
to cause the loss of:
The delay lost the battle for them.
to let (oneself) go astray, miss the way, etc.:
We lost ourselves in the woods.
to allow (oneself) to become absorbed or engrossed in something and oblivious to all else:
I had lost myself in thought.
(of a physician or other medical personnel) to fail to preserve the life of (a patient): The doctor came out of the operating room and sadly said, “So sorry. We lost him.”.
(of a woman) to fail to be delivered of (a live baby) because of miscarriage, complications in childbirth, etc.
verb (used without object), lost, losing.
to suffer loss:
to lose on a contract.
to suffer defeat or fail to win, as in a contest, race, or game:
We played well, but we lost.
to depreciate in effectiveness or in some other essential quality:
a classic that loses in translation.
(of a clock, watch, etc.) to run slow.
Verb phrases
lose out, to suffer defeat or loss; fail to obtain something desired:
He got through the preliminaries, but lost out in the finals.
lose face. face (def 51).
lose it, Informal. to suddenly lose control of one's emotions:
When he said he loved me, I nearly lost it.
Origin of lose
before 900; Middle English losen, Old English -lēosan; replacing Middle English lesen, itself also reflecting Old English -lēosan; cognate with German verlieren, Gothic fraliusan to lose. See loss
Related forms
relose, verb (used with object), relost, relosing.
Can be confused
loose, loosen, lose, loss. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for lose
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • After all, what vast privileges do you lose with your citizenship.

    Philothea Lydia Maria Child
  • Do this up to the limit of your capital and I will make good anything you lose.

    The Spenders Harry Leon Wilson
  • Then all I can say is, that when you lose it you'll be in a bad pickle.

    Brave and Bold Horatio Alger
  • He had become so wedded to his gold that to lose it was like losing his heart's blood.

    Brave and Bold Horatio Alger
  • He feared now she meant to lose it irrevocably through remarriage.

    The Spenders Harry Leon Wilson
British Dictionary definitions for lose


verb (mainly transitive) loses, losing, lost
to part with or come to be without, as through theft, accident, negligence, etc
to fail to keep or maintain: to lose one's balance
to suffer the loss or deprivation of: to lose a parent
to cease to have or possess
to fail to get or make use of: to lose a chance
(also intransitive) to fail to gain or win (a contest, game, etc): to lose the match
to fail to see, hear, perceive, or understand: I lost the gist of his speech
to waste: to lose money gambling
to wander from so as to be unable to find: to lose one's way
to cause the loss of: his delay lost him the battle
to allow to go astray or out of sight: we lost him in the crowd
(usually passive) to absorb or engross: he was lost in contemplation
(usually passive) to cause the death or destruction of: two men were lost in the attack
to outdistance or elude: he soon lost his pursuers
(intransitive) to decrease or depreciate in value or effectiveness: poetry always loses in translation
(also intransitive) (of a timepiece) to run slow (by a specified amount): the clock loses ten minutes every day
(of a physician) to fail to sustain the life of (a patient)
(of a woman) to fail to give birth to (a viable baby), esp as the result of a miscarriage
(motor racing, slang) to lose control of (the car), as on a bend: he lost it going into Woodcote
(slang) lose it, to lose control of oneself or one's temper
Derived Forms
losable, adjective
losableness, noun
Word Origin
Old English losian to perish; related to Old English -lēosan as in forlēosan to forfeit. Compare loose
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 lose

Old English losian "be lost, perish," from los "destruction, loss," from Proto-Germanic *lausa- (cf. Old Norse los "the breaking up of an army;" Old English forleosan "to lose, destroy," Old Frisian forliasa, Old Saxon farliosan, Middle Dutch verliesen, Old High German firliosan, German verlieren), from PIE root *leu- "to loosen, divide, cut apart, untie, separate" (cf. Sanskrit lunati "cuts, cuts off," lavitram "sickle;" Greek lyein "to loosen, untie, slacken," lysus "a loosening;" Latin luere "to loose, release, atone for, expiate").

Replaced related leosan (a class II strong verb whose past participle loren survives in forlorn and lovelorn), from Proto-Germanic *leusanan (cf. Old High German virliosan, German verlieren, Old Frisian urliasa, Gothic fraliusan "to lose").

Transitive sense of "to part with accidentally" is from c.1200. Meaning "fail to maintain" is from mid-15c. Meaning "to be defeated" (in a game, etc.) is from 1530s. Meaning "to cause (someone) to lose his way" is from 1640s. To lose (one's) mind "become insane" is attested from c.1500. To lose out "fail" is 1858, American English. Related: Lost; losing.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Idioms and Phrases with lose
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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