loose end



a part or piece left hanging, unattached, or unused: Remind me to tack down that loose end on the stairway carpet.
an unsettled detail, as of a business matter: The arrangements have been made, except for a few loose ends.

Nearby words

  1. loos, adolf,
  2. loose,
  3. loose cannon,
  4. loose change,
  5. loose cover,
  6. loose ends,
  7. loose forward,
  8. loose head,
  9. loose metal,
  10. loose order


    at loose ends, in an uncertain or unsettled situation or position: Ever since leaving the company, he's been at loose ends.Also at a loose end.

Origin of loose end

First recorded in 1540–50




the last part or extremity, lengthwise, of anything that is longer than it is wide or broad: the end of a street; the end of a rope.
a point, line, or limitation that indicates the full extent, degree, etc., of something; limit; bounds: kindness without end; to walk from end to end of a city.
a part or place at or adjacent to an extremity: at the end of the table; the west end of town.
the furthermost imaginable place or point: an island at the very end of the world.
termination; conclusion: The journey was coming to an end.
the concluding part: The end of her speech had to be cut short because of time.
an intention or aim: to gain one's ends.
the object for which a thing exists; purpose: The happiness of the people is the end of government.
an outcome or result: What is to be the end of all this bickering?
termination of existence; death: He met a horrible end.
a cause of death, destruction, or ruin: Another war would be the end of civilization.
a remnant or fragment: mill end; ends and trimmings.
a share or part in something: He does his end of the job very well.
Textiles. a warp thread running vertically and interlaced with the filling yarn in the woven fabric.
  1. either of the linemen stationed farthest from the center.
  2. the position played by this lineman.
Archery. the number of arrows to be shot by a competitor during one turn in a match.
Cricket. a wicket, especially the one where the batsman is taking a turn.
a unit of a game, as in curling or lawn bowling.
Kantianism. any rational being, regarded as worthy to exist for its own sake.
either half of a domino.
Knots. the part of a rope, beyond a knot or the like, that is not used.
the end, Slang. the ultimate; the utmost of good or bad: His stupidity is the end.

verb (used with object)

to bring to an end or conclusion: We ended the discussion on a note of optimism.
to put an end to; terminate: This was the battle that ended the war.
to form the end of: This passage ends the novel.
to cause the demise of; kill: A bullet through the heart ended him.
to constitute the most outstanding or greatest possible example or instance of (usually used in the infinitive): You just committed the blunder to end all blunders.

verb (used without object)

to come to an end; terminate; cease: The road ends at Rome.
to issue or result: Extravagance ends in want.
to reach or arrive at a final condition, circumstance, or goal (often followed by up): to end up in the army; to end as a happy person.


final or ultimate: the end result.

Origin of end

before 900; Middle English, Old English ende; cognate with Old Frisian enda, Middle Dutch e(i)nde, Old Saxon endi, Old High German anti, G Ende, Old Norse endi(r), Gothic andeis end < Germanic *anthjá-; akin to Sanskrit ánta- end

Related formsend·er, noun

Synonym study

5. End, close, conclusion, finish, outcome refer to the termination of something. End implies a natural termination or completion, or an attainment of purpose: the end of a day, of a race; to some good end. Close often implies a planned rounding off of something in process: the close of a conference. Conclusion suggests a decision or arrangement: All evidence leads to this conclusion; the conclusion of peace terms. Finish emphasizes completion of something begun: a fight to the finish. Outcome suggests the issue of something that was in doubt: the outcome of a game. 7. See aim.

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

British Dictionary definitions for at loose ends

loose end


a detail that is left unsettled, unexplained, or incomplete
at a loose end without purpose or occupation




the extremity of the length of something, such as a road, line, etc
the surface at either extremity of a three-dimensional object
the extreme extent, limit, or degree of something
the most distant place or time that can be imaginedthe ends of the earth
the time at which something is concluded
  1. the last section or part
  2. (as modifier)the end office Related adjectives: final, terminal, ultimate
a share or parthis end of the bargain
(often plural) a remnant or fragment (esp in the phrase odds and ends)
a final state, esp death; destruction
the purpose of an action or existence
sport either of the two defended areas of a playing field, rink, etc
bowls curling a section of play from one side of the rink to the other
American football a player at the extremity of the playing line; wing
all ends up totally or completely
a sticky end informal, US and Canadian an unpleasant death
at a loose end or US and Canadian at loose ends without purpose or occupation
at an end exhausted or completed
at the end of the day See day (def. 10)
come to an end to become completed or exhausted
end on
  1. with the end pointing towards one
  2. with the end adjacent to the end of another object
go off the deep end informal to lose one's temper; react angrily
get one's end away slang to have sexual intercourse
in the end finally
keep one's end up
  1. to sustain one's part in a joint enterprise
  2. to hold one's own in an argument, contest, etc
make ends meet or make both ends meet to spend no more than the money one has
no end or no end of informal (intensifier)I had no end of work
on end
  1. upright
  2. without pause or interruption
the end informal
  1. the worst, esp something that goes beyond the limits of endurance
  2. mainly USthe best in quality
the end of the road the point beyond which survival or continuation is impossible
throw someone in at the deep end to put someone into a new situation, job, etc, without preparation or introduction


to bring or come to a finish; conclude
to die or cause to die
(tr) to surpass; outdoa novel to end all novels
end it all informal to commit suicide
See also end up

Derived Formsender, noun

Word Origin for end

Old English ende; related to Old Norse endir, Gothic andeis, Old High German endi, Latin antiae forelocks, Sanskrit antya last




(tr) British to put (hay or grain) into a barn or stack

Word Origin for end

Old English innian; related to Old High German innōn; see inn

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 loose ends
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Idioms and Phrases with at loose ends

at loose ends

In an unsettled or uncertain situation. For example, This whole visit has left me feeling restless, constantly at loose ends, or Jane couldn't find a job this year and so is at loose ends for the summer. [Mid-1800s]


In addition to the idioms beginning with end

  • end game
  • end in itself
  • end justifies the means, the
  • end of one's rope, at the
  • end of the line
  • end run
  • ends of the earth, the
  • end to end
  • end up

also see:

  • all's well that ends well
  • at loose ends
  • at one's wit's end
  • be-all and end-all
  • beginning of the end
  • bitter end
  • burn the candle at both ends
  • can't see beyond the end of one's nose
  • come to an end
  • dead end
  • go off the deep end
  • hair stand on end
  • hold one's end up
  • in the end
  • light at the end of the tunnel
  • make ends meet
  • never hear the end of
  • odds and ends
  • on end
  • on the receiving end
  • play both ends against the middle
  • put an end to
  • rear end
  • short end (of the stick)
  • tail end
  • wrong end of the stick
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.