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[laws, los] /lɔs, lɒs/
detriment, disadvantage, or deprivation from failure to keep, have, or get:
to bear the loss of a robbery.
something that is lost:
The painting was the greatest loss from the robbery.
an amount or number lost:
The loss of life increased each day.
the state of being deprived of or of being without something that one has had:
the loss of old friends.
death, or the fact of being dead:
to mourn the loss of a grandparent.
the accidental or inadvertent losing of something dropped, misplaced, stolen, etc.:
to discover the loss of a document.
a losing by defeat; failure to win:
the loss of a bet.
failure to make good use of something, as time; waste.
failure to preserve or maintain:
loss of engine speed at high altitudes.
destruction or ruin:
the loss of a ship by fire.
a thing or a number of related things that are lost or destroyed to some extent:
Most buildings in the burned district were a total loss.
  1. the losing of soldiers by death, capture, etc.
  2. Often, losses. the number of soldiers so lost.
Insurance. occurrence of an event, as death or damage of property, for which the insurer makes indemnity under the terms of a policy.
Electricity. a measure of the power lost in a system, as by conversion to heat, expressed as a relation between power input and power output, as the ratio of or difference between the two quantities.
at a loss,
  1. at less than cost; at a financial loss.
  2. in a state of bewilderment or uncertainty; puzzled; perplexed:
    We are completely at a loss for an answer to the problem.
Origin of loss
before 900; Middle English; Old English los destruction; cognate with Old Norse los looseness, breaking up. See lose, loose
Related forms
preloss, noun
Can be confused
loose, loosen, lose, loss.
4. privation, deprivation.
1. gain. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for losses
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • These losses are doubtless irreparable so far as the stocks in question are concerned.

    The Spenders Harry Leon Wilson
  • The losses in New York City alone were said to be fifty millions.

    The Spenders Harry Leon Wilson
  • If he could have a bet on The Dutchman he would surely recoup his losses.

    Thoroughbreds W. A. Fraser
  • It is to these circumstances that most of the losses were due.

    The Story of the Malakand Field Force Sir Winston S. Churchill
  • The losses sustained by the Brigade were indisputably most severe.

    The Story of the Malakand Field Force Sir Winston S. Churchill
British Dictionary definitions for losses


the act or an instance of losing
the disadvantage or deprivation resulting from losing: a loss of reputation
the person, thing, or amount lost: a large loss
(pl) military personnel lost by death or capture
(sometimes pl) the amount by which the costs of a business transaction or operation exceed its revenue
a measure of the power lost in an electrical system expressed as the ratio of or difference between the input power and the output power
  1. an occurrence of something that has been insured against, thus giving rise to a claim by a policyholder
  2. the amount of the resulting claim
at a loss
  1. uncertain what to do; bewildered
  2. rendered helpless (for lack of something): at a loss for words
  3. at less than the cost of buying, producing, or maintaining (something): the business ran at a loss for several years
Word Origin
C14: noun probably formed from lost, past participle of losen to perish, from Old English lōsian to be destroyed, from los destruction
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 losses



Old English los "loss, destruction," from Proto-Germanic *lausa- (see lose). The modern word, however, probably evolved 14c. with a weaker sense, from lost, the original past participle of lose. Phrase at a loss (1590s) originally refers to hounds losing the scent. To cut (one's) losses is from 1885, originally in finance.

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


Related Terms

cut one's losses

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 losses
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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