[ loos ]
/ lus /
adjective, loos·er, loos·est.
free or released from fastening or attachment: a loose end.
free from anything that binds or restrains; unfettered: loose cats prowling around in alleyways at night.
uncombined, as a chemical element.
not bound together: to wear one's hair loose.
not put up in a package or other container: loose mushrooms.
available for disposal; unused; unappropriated: loose funds.
lacking in reticence or power of restraint: a loose tongue.
lax, as the bowels.
lacking moral restraint or integrity; notorious for his loose character.
sexually promiscuous or immoral; unchaste.
not firm, taut, or rigid: a loose tooth; a loose rein.
relaxed or limber in nature: He runs with a loose, open stride.
not fitting closely or tightly: a loose sweater.
not close or compact in structure or arrangement; having spaces between the parts; open: a loose weave.
having few restraining factors between associated constituents and allowing ample freedom for independent action: a loose federation of city-states.
not cohering: loose sand.
not strict, exact, or precise: a loose interpretation of the law.
- 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.
in a loose manner; loosely (usually used in combination): loose-flowing.
verb (used with object), loosed, loos·ing.
to let loose; free from bonds or restraint.
to release, as from constraint, obligation, or penalty.
Chiefly Nautical. to set free from fastening or attachment: to loose a boat from its moorings.
to unfasten, undo, or untie, as a bond, fetter, or knot.
to shoot; discharge; let fly: to loose missiles at the invaders.
to make less tight; slacken or relax.
to render less firmly fixed; lessen an attachment; loosen.
verb (used without object), loosed, loos·ing.
to let go a hold.
to hoist anchor; get under way.
to shoot or let fly an arrow, bullet, etc. (often followed by off): to loose off at a flock of ducks.
Obsolete. to become loose; loosen.
- 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.
break loose, to free oneself; escape: The convicts broke loose.
- 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.
hang/stay loose, Slang. to remain relaxed and unperturbed.
on the loose,
turn loose, to release or free, as from confinement: The teacher turned the children loose after the class.
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.
SYNONYMS FOR loose
loose·ly, adverbloose·ness, nouno·ver·loose, adjectiveo·ver·loose·ly, adverb
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019
British Dictionary definitions for on the loose
/ (luːs) /
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
- (esp of women) promiscuous or easy
- (of attitudes, ways of life, etc) immoral or dissolute
lacking a sense of responsibility or proprietyloose talk
- (of the bowels) emptying easily, esp excessively; lax
- (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
- free from confinement or restraint
- informal on a spree
- in a loose manner; loosely
- (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
Idioms and Phrases with on the loose (1 of 2)
on the loose
At large, free, as in That dog of theirs is on the loose all the time. [Second half of 1800s]
Acting without restraint, as in After the game the players were in town, on the loose. [Mid-1700s]
Idioms and Phrases with on the loose (2 of 2)
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
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.