Nearby words

  1. looping,
  2. looping mill,
  3. loopy,
  4. loos,
  5. loos, adolf,
  6. loose cannon,
  7. loose change,
  8. loose cover,
  9. loose end,
  10. loose ends


Origin of loose

1175–1225; (adj.) Middle English los, loos < Old Norse lauss loose, free, empty; cognate with Old English lēas (see -less), Dutch, German los loose, free; (v.) Middle English leowsen, lousen, derivative of the adj.

Related forms
Can be confusedloose loosen lose loss Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

British Dictionary definitions for cast loose



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
  1. (esp of women) promiscuous or easy
  2. (of attitudes, ways of life, etc) immoral or dissolute
lacking a sense of responsibility or proprietyloose talk
  1. (of the bowels) emptying easily, esp excessively; lax
  2. (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
  1. free from confinement or restraint
  2. informalon a spree


  1. in a loose manner; loosely
  2. (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)
Derived Formsloosely, adverblooseness, noun

Word Origin for loose

C13 (in the sense: not bound): from Old Norse lauss free; related to Old English lēas free from, -less

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 cast loose
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Idioms and Phrases with cast loose

cast loose

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

also see:

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