loss

[ laws, los ]
/ lɔs, lɒs /

noun

Idioms

    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 formspre·loss, noun
Can be confusedloose loosen lose loss
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

British Dictionary definitions for at a loss

loss

/ (lɒs) /

noun

Word Origin for loss

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

Word Origin and History for at a loss

loss


n.

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

Idioms and Phrases with at a loss (1 of 2)

at a loss


1

Below cost, as in The store was doing so badly that it was selling merchandise at a loss.

2

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]

3

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)

loss


see at a loss; cut one's losses; dead loss.

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