adjective, loos·er, loos·est.
- 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.
verb (used with object), loosed, loos·ing.
verb (used without object), loosed, loos·ing.
- looping mill,
- loos, adolf,
- loose cannon,
- loose change,
- loose cover,
- loose end,
- loose ends
- 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.
- 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.
- to free or become free.
- to yield; give way: The guardrail let loose and we very nearly plunged over the edge.
- free; unconfined, as, especially, an escaped convict or circus animal.
- behaving in an unrestrained or dissolute way: a bachelor on the loose.
Origin of loose
- (esp of women) promiscuous or easy
- (of attitudes, ways of life, etc) immoral or dissolute
- (of the bowels) emptying easily, esp excessively; lax
- (of a cough) accompanied by phlegm, mucus, etc
- in a loose manner; loosely
- (in combination)loose-fitting
Word Origin for 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.
Also, cast adrift. Let go, freed, as in After Rob was suspended from boarding school, he was cast loose with nowhere to go, or Selling her home meant she was cast adrift with no financial ties or responsibilities. Originally a nautical term for releasing a vessel, this idiom was being used figuratively by the late 1500s.
In addition to the idioms beginning with loose
- loose cannon
- loose ends
- at loose ends
- break loose
- cast loose
- cut loose
- footloose and fancy-free
- hang loose
- have a screw loose
- on the loose
- play fast and loose