- 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.
- having the players on a team positioned at fairly wide intervals, as in a football formation.
- (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): loose-flowing.
- 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.
- 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,
- to loosen or unfasten, as a ship from a mooring.
- 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,
- to release from domination or control.
- to become free, independent, etc.
- 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,
- to free or become free.
- to yield; give way: The guardrail let loose and we very nearly plunged over the edge.
- on the loose,
- free; unconfined, as, especially, an escaped convict or circus animal.
- 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
SynonymsSee more synonyms on Thesaurus.com
- free or released from confinement or restraint
- not close, compact, or tight in structure or arrangement
- not fitted or fitting closelyloose clothing is cooler
- not bundled, packaged, fastened, or put in a containerloose nails
- inexact; imprecisea loose translation
- (of funds, cash, etc) not allocated or locked away; readily available
- (esp of women) promiscuous or easy
- (of attitudes, ways of life, etc) immoral or dissolute
- lacking a sense of responsibility or proprietyloose talk
- (of the bowels) emptying easily, esp excessively; lax
- (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 and Canadian very relaxed; easy
- the loose rugby the part of play when the forwards close round the ball in a ruck or loose scrumSee scrum
- on the loose
- free from confinement or restraint
- informalon a spree
- in a loose manner; loosely
- (in combination)loose-fitting
- hang loose informal, mainly US to behave in a relaxed, easy fashion
- (tr) to set free or release, as from confinement, restraint, or obligation
- (tr) 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)
Word Origin and History for on the 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.
Idioms and Phrases with on the loose
on the loose
At large, free, as in That dog of theirs is on the loose all the time. [Second half of 1800s]
Acting without restraint, as in After the game the players were in town, on the loose. [Mid-1700s]