Definition of loose in English:

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Pronunciation: /lo͞os/


1Not firmly or tightly fixed in place; detached or able to be detached: a loose tooth the truck’s trailer came loose
More example sentences
  • Grinding can cause serious problems - broken or cracked teeth, gum problems, tooth sensitivity and even loose teeth.
  • The 15-year-old schoolgirl suffered a perforated eardrum and two loose teeth in the attack by up to five other children, while it was recorded.
  • ‘The fire brigade went up and down in their skylift several times and removed the loose stones very courageously,’ he said.
not fixed in place, not secure, unsecured, unattached;
detached, unfastened, untied;
wobbly, unsteady, movable
1.1Not held or tied together; not packaged or placed in a container: wear your hair loose pockets bulging with loose change
More example sentences
  • He carefully secures the material around my head, making sure not to snag any loose hairs within the knot and places his hands once more on my shoulders.
  • A loose paper floats from within the bag and floats to the ground.
  • This further complicated the positioning of loose blocks within the meter-thick sequence.
untied, unpinned, unbound, hanging free, down, flowing
1.2(Of a person or animal) free from confinement; not bound or tethered: the bull was loose with cattle in the field the tethered horses broke loose
More example sentences
  • All cities have ordinances against unleashed pets, and calling Animal Control about a loose dog will usually get someone to show up.
  • They listed children racing around on quad and motorbikes, noise from buzzing generators, loose horses and animal mess on pavements around the site among their complaints.
  • Locals would call to report a loose horse or missing cattle, and he would go out and round up the errant livestock.
unconfined, untied, unchained, untethered, stray
1.3Not strict or exact: a loose interpretation
More example sentences
  • You need to look at the slow erosion of states' rights, and strict vs. loose constructionism of the Constitution.
  • It seems like a rather loose interpretation of the word slave.
  • The new signs, in standard yellow and black, are up, and are predictably loose with their interpretation of English.
1.4Not close or compact in structure: a loose weave figurative a loose federation of political and industrial groups
More example sentences
  • High contact pressures cause the feet to penetrate through the loose material and actually compact the soil directly beneath the foot tip.
  • When plants were grown in a combination of compact and loose soil, the spatial arrangement of the zones determined the shoot response.
  • It is rumored that the loose Federation idea has some support among the neoconservatives, which is worrisome, since they tend to get what they want.
1.5(Of feces) containing excessive liquid: many patients report loose bowel movements
More example sentences
  • The diarrhea problems and loose stool problems disappeared.
  • Kidney Yang deficiency can give chronic loose stools or diarrhea.
  • Runner's diarrhea is frequent, loose bowel movements during or immediately after a run.
2(Of a garment) not fitting tightly or closely: she slipped into a loose T-shirt and shorts
More example sentences
  • I turned to see Aya leaning in the corner, arms folded and dressed in loose shirt and tight shorts.
  • Clearly emphasising more on the textures and styling, the duo presented an entirely western range with skirts, dresses, jackets and loose trousers.
  • Home again, still a little over-heated, I changed back into shorts and a very loose shirt and cooled down nicely over a cup of excellent espresso.
baggy, generously cut, slack, roomy;
oversized, shapeless, sagging, saggy, sloppy;
3Relaxed; physically slack: she swung back into her easy, loose stride
More example sentences
  • What you want for singing is, first of all, a loose relaxed neck.
  • As she stood there, contemplating the land, and resting, the muscles of her groin became slack and loose, and the weight of the child in her belly made her want to bear down almost instantly.
  • Have the confidence to let the shot go where you know it will, with a loose relaxed grip.
3.1Careless and indiscreet in what is said: there is too much loose talk about the situation
More example sentences
  • He reports on a near-epidemic of indiscipline, suicides and loose talk
  • In too many instances, he said, the wives knew a lot about what the Bureau was doing, and they talked about it to excess — so much so that their loose talk might compromise current investigations.
  • In February 1940 a nationwide campaign was launched that warned the general public against loose talk and the dangers of unwittingly giving information to enemy sympathizers.
indiscreet, unguarded, free, gossipy, gossiping
3.2 dated Promiscuous; immoral: she ran the risk of being called a loose woman
More example sentences
  • A promiscuous woman is a loose woman. Note that in all three propositions, the reference is to sexual promiscuity.
  • Some traditional interpreters see this as a stern admonition - this is a loose woman, and she had better change her ways.
  • "Do you think Tess is a loose woman?"
licentious, dissolute
dated fallen
3.3(Of the ball or puck in a game) in play but not in any player’s possession.
Example sentences
  • He played little before this season but is the type of player who can scrape up several extra possessions by diving for loose balls and picking up stray rebounds.
  • You'll see a couple of loose ball scrambles each game and that's plenty to put a smile on our face.
  • Warn your fellow players of screens, loose balls or anything else that may give you a slight advantage.


[with object]
1Set free; release: the hounds have been loosed
More example sentences
  • Then about 150 years ago the glacial dam burst, loosing a 100-foot, landscape-scouring wave that wiped out entire villages.
  • At the end of the millennial reign, Satan will be loosed and a massive rebellion against the kingdom and a fierce assault against Christ and His saints will occur.
  • The prime minister is afraid that his protestations will be lost in the synthetic public outrage that is being loosed by the Eurosceptic media.
free, set free, unloose, turn loose, set loose, let loose, let go, release;
untie, unchain, unfasten, unleash
1.1Untie; unfasten: the ropes were loosed
More example sentences
  • Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen: to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke?
  • At Epsilon's signal, the mercenaries unceremoniously dumped their load at Darkstorm's feet and loosed the ropes that kept it bound.
  • Just as he had loosed the compass from its rope, the sea gave a mighty heave and tossed the compass from his grip.
1.2Relax (one’s grip): he loosed his grip suddenly
More example sentences
  • He relaxed, and Lea loosed her grip, but again didn't release him.
  • I was actually beginning to think that we were having a romantic moment when he suddenly loosed his grip on me.
  • Mira watched in shock as his grip loosed, and he slid noiselessly to the floor, his mouth open in a surprised ‘oh’.
weaken, lessen, reduce, diminish, moderate


The adjective loose, meaning ‘not tight,’ should not be confused with the verb loose, which means ‘let go’: they loosed the reins and let the horse gallop. This verb in turn should not be confused with the verb lose, which means ‘be deprived of, fail to keep’: I will lose my keys if I don’t mend the hole in my pocket.



hang (or stay) loose

[often as imperative] informal, chiefly North American Be relaxed; refrain from taking anything too seriously: hang loose, baby!
More example sentences
  • Still, if you go in not expecting very much, and relax and just hang loose, you will find a lot to smile about.
  • He likes to joke around and is tremendous about creating a positive atmosphere so the guys can stay loose.
  • The key I believe is to stay loose and just write whatever pops into your head.

on the loose

Having escaped from confinement: a serial killer is on the loose
More example sentences
  • Her husband restrained the thief until help arrived, but he later managed to escape and is still on the loose.
  • No one was interested in going to a school with a serial killer on the loose, no matter how prestigious it was.
  • The police detectives at the scene quickly realised there was a serial killer on the loose.
free, at liberty, at large, escaped;
on the run, fugitive, wanted
informal on the lam



Pronunciation: /ˈlo͞osnəs/
Example sentences
  • The breadth and looseness of the recommendations are a dangerous precedent.
  • It's painterly, in fact - the correctness of the drawing and the looseness and liveliness of the assembly work together to make the sculptures live.
  • Similar looseness shows up on the expenditure side.


Middle English loos 'free from bonds,' from Old Norse lauss, of Germanic origin; related to Dutch and German los.

  • The medieval word loose is related to Old English lose and loss, and also to the ending -less, signifying ‘without’. The sense ‘immoral, promiscuous’ dates from around 1470 from the original sense ‘free from bonds’. The term a loose cannon sounds as if it should be centuries old, perhaps from the days of warships in Napoleonic battles. In fact, the first recorded uses are from the late 19th century, and the phrase only really gained currency in the 1970s. That said, it does come from the idea that a cannon which has broken loose from its mounting would be a particularly dangerous hazard on any ship, but especially a wooden one. See also fast

Words that rhyme with loose

abstruse, abuse, adduce, Ballets Russes, Belarus, Bruce, burnous, caboose, charlotte russe, conduce, deduce, deuce, diffuse, douce, educe, excuse, goose, induce, introduce, juice, Larousse, luce, misuse, moose, mousse, noose, obtuse, Palouse, produce, profuse, puce, recluse, reduce, Rousse, seduce, sluice, Sousse, spruce, traduce, truce, use, vamoose, Zeus

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: loose

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