- 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.
- 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
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018
- a detail that is left unsettled, unexplained, or incomplete
- at a loose end without purpose or occupation
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
Unfinished details, incomplete business. For example, We've not quite finished the project; there are still some loose ends. This expression alludes to the ends of a rope or cable that should be fastened. [Mid-1800s] Also see at loose ends.
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.