View synonyms for loose


[ loos ]


, loos·er, loos·est.
  1. free or released from fastening or attachment:

    a loose end.

    Antonyms: bound

  2. free from anything that binds or restrains; unfettered:

    loose cats prowling around in alleyways at night.

    Synonyms: unbound

  3. uncombined, as a chemical element.
  4. not bound together:

    to wear one's hair loose.

  5. not put up in a package or other container:

    loose mushrooms.

  6. available for disposal; unused; unappropriated:

    loose funds.

  7. lacking in reticence or power of restraint:

    a loose tongue.

  8. lax, as the bowels.
  9. lacking moral restraint or integrity:

    notorious for his loose character.

  10. sexually promiscuous or immoral; unchaste.

    Synonyms: licentious, dissolute, libertine

    Antonyms: chaste

  11. not firm, taut, or rigid:

    a loose tooth;

    a loose rein.

  12. relaxed or limber in nature:

    He runs with a loose, open stride.

  13. not fitting closely or tightly:

    a loose sweater.

  14. not close or compact in structure or arrangement; having spaces between the parts; open:

    a loose weave.

  15. having few restraining factors between associated constituents and allowing ample freedom for independent action:

    a loose federation of city-states.

  16. not cohering:

    loose sand.

  17. not strict, exact, or precise:

    a loose interpretation of the law.

    Synonyms: indefinite, general, vague

  18. Sports.
    1. having the players on a team positioned at fairly wide intervals, as in a football formation.
    2. (of a ball, hockey puck, etc.) not in the possession of either team; out of player control.


  1. in a loose manner; loosely (usually used in combination):


verb (used with object)

, loosed, loos·ing.
  1. to let loose; free from bonds or restraint.

    Synonyms: unbind, loosen

  2. to release, as from constraint, obligation, or penalty.

    Synonyms: liberate

  3. Chiefly Nautical. to set free from fastening or attachment:

    to loose a boat from its moorings.

  4. to unfasten, undo, or untie, as a bond, fetter, or knot.
  5. to shoot; discharge; let fly:

    to loose missiles at the invaders.

  6. to make less tight; slacken or relax.

    Synonyms: ease

    Antonyms: tighten

  7. to render less firmly fixed; lessen an attachment; loosen.

verb (used without object)

, loosed, loos·ing.
  1. to let go a hold.
  2. to hoist anchor; get under way.
  3. to shoot or let fly an arrow, bullet, etc. (often followed by off ):

    to loose off at a flock of ducks.

  4. Obsolete. to become loose; loosen.


/ luːs /


  1. free or released from confinement or restraint
  2. not close, compact, or tight in structure or arrangement
  3. not fitted or fitting closely

    loose clothing is cooler

  4. not bundled, packaged, fastened, or put in a container

    loose nails

  5. inexact; imprecise

    a loose translation

  6. (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
  7. lacking a sense of responsibility or propriety

    loose talk

    1. (of the bowels) emptying easily, esp excessively; lax
    2. (of a cough) accompanied by phlegm, mucus, etc
  8. (of a dye or dyed article) fading as a result of washing; not fast
  9. informal.
    very relaxed; easy


  1. See scrum
    the loose
    the loose rugby the part of play when the forwards close round the ball in a ruck or loose scrum See scrum
  2. on the loose
    on the loose
    1. free from confinement or restraint
    2. on a spree


    1. in a loose manner; loosely
    2. ( in combination )


  1. hang loose informal.
    hang loose to behave in a relaxed, easy fashion


  1. tr to set free or release, as from confinement, restraint, or obligation
  2. tr to unfasten or untie
  3. to make or become less strict, tight, firmly attached, compact, etc
  4. whenintr, often foll by off to let fly (a bullet, arrow, or other missile)

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Derived Forms

  • ˈlooseness, noun
  • ˈloosely, adverb

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Other Words From

  • loose·ly adverb
  • loose·ness noun
  • o·ver·loose adjective
  • o·ver·loose·ness noun

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Word History and Origins

Origin of loose1

First recorded in 1175–1225; (adjective) Middle English los, loos, from Old Norse lauss “loose, free, empty”; cognate with Old English lēas ( -less ), Dutch, German los loose, free; (verb) Middle English leowsen, lousen, derivative of the adjective

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Word History and Origins

Origin of loose1

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

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Idioms and Phrases

  1. break loose, to free oneself; escape:

    The convicts broke loose.

  2. cast loose,
    1. to loosen or unfasten, as a ship from a mooring.
    2. to send forth; set adrift or free:

      He was cast loose at an early age to make his own way in the world.

  3. cut loose,
    1. to release from domination or control.
    2. to become free, independent, etc.
    3. to revel without restraint:

      After the rodeo they headed into town to cut loose.

  4. hang / stay loose, Slang. to remain relaxed and unperturbed.
  5. on the loose,
    1. free; unconfined, as, especially, an escaped convict or circus animal.
    2. behaving in an unrestrained or dissolute way:

      a bachelor on the loose.

  6. turn loose, to release or free, as from confinement:

    The teacher turned the children loose after the class.

  7. let loose. let loose ( def ).

More idioms and phrases containing loose

  • 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

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Example Sentences

What’s more, Reich believed that a looser view of sex would free society from the psychological hang-ups preventing people from reaching their orgastic potential.

I gently lowered the trap into a bucket and pulled loose the wires that held it together.

Eventually officials decided it needed a lot more work than they thought it would and when they did that work, they let asbestos loose and now the building is a mess and it could cost city taxpayers a lot of money.

So in a laboratory greenhouse, the researchers let three species of dodders loose on plants with different flowering times, confirming that all the parasites shifted their flowering time to match their hosts.

We feel that the Federal Reserve policy is going to remain extremely loose.

From Fortune

As of Thursday night, the brothers remained on the loose, last seen in northern France.

Has L.A. figured out how to stop the epidemic it set loose on the world?

Biden is, of course, famous for being a bit loose in his public remarks.

He was pinned to the cement for his refusal to go along with an arrest for selling loose cigarettes.

The lads can enjoy a good pop shot, but should a woman come, all hell breaks loose.

Sol laughed out of his whiskers, with a big, loose-rolling sound, and sat on the porch without waiting to be asked.

She was holding the back of her chair with one hand; her loose sleeve had slipped almost to the shoulder of her uplifted arm.

"I call you," the policeman said, and stripping the saddle and bridle from his sweaty horse, turned him loose to graze.

For good or ill, the torrent of rebellion was suffered to break loose, and it soon engulfed a continent.

He rode easily, with a loose rein, and he waved his disengaged hand the instant he caught sight of the white faces.


Related Words

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Loose Vs. Lose

What’s the difference between loose and lose?

Loose is most commonly used as an adjective meaning not tight or free or released from fastening, attachment, or restraint, as in a loose screw or Let him loose! Lose is a verb most commonly meaning to fail to win or to misplace something, as in I hate to lose in chess or Don’t lose your key. 

Loose ends with an s sound and rhymes with moose. Lose ends with a z sound and rhymes with choose.

One reason that the two words are sometimes confused is that loose can also be used as a verb, most commonly meaning to free something from a restraint, as in loose the cannons! 

Perhaps the most common misuse of these words is when loose is used when lose should be. To remember the difference, remember this sentence: You could lose loose screws. (First comes the verb lose, with one o, followed by the adjective loose, with two o’s).

Here’s an example of loose and lose used correctly in a sentence.

Example: If you carry around loose cash, you could lose it—put it in your wallet.

Want to learn more? Read the full breakdown of the difference between loose and lose.

Quiz yourself on loose vs. lose!

Should loose or lose be used in the following sentence?

I don’t want to _____ this game!

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Definitions and idiom definitions from Unabridged, based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

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