- at less than cost; at a financial loss.
- in a state of bewilderment or uncertainty; puzzled; perplexed: We are completely at a loss for an answer to the problem.
Origin of loss
British Dictionary definitions for at a loss
- an occurrence of something that has been insured against, thus giving rise to a claim by a policyholder
- the amount of the resulting claim
- uncertain what to do; bewildered
- rendered helpless (for lack of something)at a loss for words
- at less than the cost of buying, producing, or maintaining (something)the business ran at a loss for several years
Word Origin for loss
Word Origin and History for at a loss
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.
Idioms and Phrases with at a loss (1 of 2)
at a loss
Below cost, as in The store was doing so badly that it was selling merchandise at a loss.
Puzzled, perplexed, in a state of uncertainty, as in When his letters were returned unopened, John was at a loss as to what to do next. This usage was originally applied to hounds who had lost the scent or track of their prey. [Mid-1600s]
at a loss for words. Unable or uncertain as to what to say. For example, Father's tirade left us all at a loss for words. [Late 1600s]
Idioms and Phrases with at a loss (2 of 2)
see at a loss; cut one's losses; dead loss.