Definition of lose in English:

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Pronunciation: /lo͞oz/

verb (past and past participle lost /lôst/ /läst/)

[with object]
1Be deprived of or cease to have or retain (something): I’ve lost my appetite Linda was very upset about losing her job the company may find itself losing customers to cheaper rivals
More example sentences
  • Schools from deprived areas are still losing a proportion of their pupils, probably those with higher parental support and motivation and hence are even more deprived.
  • If family support disappears and a patient loses housing or a job or both, what can the clinician do?
  • But you know, the manufacturing jobs disappear, you lose control over your space.
be deprived of, suffer the loss of;
no longer have
1.1Cause (someone) to fail to gain or retain (something): you lost me my appointment at the university
More example sentences
  • 'Being female lost me my job'.
  • Spending time in an alcohol detox centre lost me my career with the federal government.
  • Off I went into another manic episode, one that lost me my first job as a social worker, due to my instability.
1.2Be deprived of (a close relative or friend) through their death or as a result of the breaking off of a relationship: she lost her husband in the fire
More example sentences
  • And to those who have lost relatives and friends, be assured that you are not forgotten.
  • Many cats belong to elderly, lonely people, their only companion is their furry feline. To them the loss of their beloved friend is akin to losing a close relative.
  • Mary, like the other voluntary members of the group, has a personal interest in the fight against cancer losing relatives and friends to the disease.
1.3(Of a pregnant woman) miscarry (a baby) or suffer the death of (a baby) during childbirth.
Example sentences
  • She became convinced she was losing her baby and insisted her husband take her to hospital.
  • She has reportedly been put under round-the-clock medical care over fears she could lose her unborn baby..
  • Doctors are gravely concerned that she could lose her baby and the family has asked to be left in peace to cope with the ordeal.
1.4 (be lost) Be destroyed or killed, especially through accident or as a result of military action: a fishing disaster in which 19 local men were lost
More example sentences
  • The ship had 5 officers and 33 men on board when sunk, of whom 2 officers and 24 men were lost.
  • Twelve men were lost and the ship abandoned; she later sank while under tow in the South Atlantic.
  • Her entire ship's company of 30 men were lost.
1.5Decrease in (body weight); undergo a reduction of (a specified amount of weight): she couldn’t eat and began to lose weight
More example sentences
  • Now fully recovered, she wanted to reclaim her body and lose some of the weight she had gained as a result of all the medication.
  • To lose body weight, essentially you have to burn more calories than you take in.
  • But, remember, the amount of weight you lose is entirely at your own discretion and you can join in or drop out of the campaign at any time.
1.6Waste or fail to take advantage of (time or an opportunity): they lost every chance to score in the first inning he lost no time in attacking his opponent’s tax proposals
More example sentences
  • It is certainly an issue I raised at the time, but time has passed and that opportunity has been lost.
  • Outside the project this investment opportunity may well be lost.
  • But trains would have to reverse on departure from both, so any advantage would be completely lost.
miss, waste, squander, fail to grasp, fail to take advantage of, let pass, neglect, forfeit
informal pass up, lose out on
1.7(Of a watch or clock) become slow by (a specified amount of time): this clock will neither gain nor lose a second
More example sentences
  • It also depends on the constancy of its rate; meaning, that a watch gains or loses the exact same amount of time each day.
  • They gradually fell out of step, with one clock losing 5 seconds a day in relation to the other.
  • Unfortunately the watch loses 11 seconds a day.
1.8 (lose it) informal Lose control of one’s temper or emotions: in the end I completely lost it—I was screaming at them
More example sentences
  • I'm told Roseanna has lost it completely and has taken to sticking pins into wax images of her old pal Nicola.
  • I completely lost it and shouted and screamed at him about how selfish he is.
  • As they watched us, mainlanders would shake their heads and wonder whether we had lost it completely.
2Become unable to find (something or someone): I’ve lost the car keys
More example sentences
  • We lost the car keys before and I used the mini torch to help me find them again.
  • They are reminded of what they have been missing, what has been long lost or forgotten.
  • It's been lost, of course, in all the wanderings and dissolutions, which is sad.
mislay, misplace, be unable to find, lose track of, leave (behind), fail to keep/retain, fail to keep sight of
2.1Cease or become unable to follow (the right route): the clouds came down, and we lost the path
More example sentences
  • So, arriving ahead of time, I lose myself for 10 minutes down a path really called Dunwoman's Lane.
  • To add to their difficulties, when they were far advanced among the hills, their guide lost the road, and was never able to regain it.
  • But at Reelsville they lost the Road. He wrote, "Not a track was to be seen on the smooth green turf beneath the tall, shady oak trees."
stray from, wander from, depart from, go astray from, fail to keep to
2.2Evade or shake off (a pursuer): he came after me waving his revolver, but I easily lost him
More example sentences
  • He ducked and dodged around the buildings, trying to lose his pursuers but they managed to stay on his tail.
  • He realised now that he would never lose such a determined pursuer in these corridors.
  • There were no more trees with which to lose his pursuers, only a stretch of stone, snow dunes, and mountainside.
escape from, evade, elude, dodge, avoid, give someone the slip, shake off, throw off, throw off the scent;
leave behind, outdistance, outstrip, outrun
2.3North American informal Get rid of (an undesirable person or thing): lose that creep!
More example sentences
  • They need to lose that awful voiceover.
  • Oh, thank God, we get to lose that awful two-tone weave!
  • You need to lose that creep before he pressures you into more things you don't want to do.
discard, get rid of, dispose of, dump, jettison, throw out, drop
2.4 informal Cause (someone) to be unable to follow an argument or explanation: sorry, Tim, you’ve lost me there
More example sentences
  • This is where he loses me, and it's where the traditionalist argument always loses me.
  • This guy is losing me with his explanation of Mrs. Jones though.
  • I have to admit he lost me there.
2.5 (lose oneself in/be lost in) Be or become deeply absorbed in (something): he had been lost in thought
More example sentences
  • I would shirk my daily responsibilities, lay in front of the TV for hours, smoking and losing myself in what was on.
  • When you go to one of those stories, part of what you are doing is trying to lose yourself in something and then you go home and you think about it.
  • The things that we used to romanticize and use as an escape have come back with a hard edge, as forces to be reckoned with rather than as dreams to lose ourselves in.
engrossed, absorbed, rapt, immersed, deep, intent, engaged, wrapped up
3Fail to win (a game or contest): the Bears lost the final game of the series [no object]: they lost by one vote (as adjective losing) the losing side
More example sentences
  • New Jersey took a 21-point lead into the final period of that contest yet lost the game.
  • Something had to give in the Premiership game of the day when undefeated Aberdeen took on a Melrose team who have gone four games without losing a match.
  • The Cork side have lost all four games to date, so on all known form this should result in a Naas victory.
be defeated, be beaten, suffer defeat, be the loser, be conquered, be vanquished, be trounced
informal go down, take a licking, be bested
3.1Cause (someone) to fail to win (a game or contest): that shot lost him the championship
More example sentences
  • His antics lost him the first game, for which he didn't arrive, and the second, which he threw away.
  • I really fear making a mistake or a wrong decision that costs us points or loses us games.
  • I was just a pawn in his game, he'd have moved on and thrown me away when I lost him his game.
4Earn less (money) than one is spending or has spent: the paper is losing $500,000 a month [no object]: he lost heavily on box-office flops
More example sentences
  • To the best of my knowledge it still loses money so why spend even more money breaking the company up even further.
  • For the race promoter, every single event is a gamble between losing money, earning money, or just breaking even.
  • This column has always argued that economic freedom and the opportunity to make, spend and lose money is central to a creative society.


See loose (usage).



have nothing to lose

Be in a situation that is so bad that even if an action or undertaking is unsuccessful, it cannot make it any worse.
Example sentences
  • Sentenced to die, a convicted contract killer has nothing to lose when he snatches a policeman's pistol.
  • A year ago she beat players because she adopted a youthful attitude of having nothing to lose.
  • We have nothing to lose, because we had nothing to start with.

lose heart

Become discouraged.
Example sentences
  • This is the one hurdle at which most listeners coming in hope, tend to falter and often lose heart and turn away.
  • However discouraging the prospect, he never lost heart.
  • What should have happened was the next week they should have marched again, but after that march people really lost heart.

lose one's heart to

see heart.

lose height

(Of an aircraft) descend to a lower level in flight.
Example sentences
  • Despite it being a biplane, I really did need very low power settings and improbably high speeds to make it lose height.
  • Just one second later, 44 seconds before the collision, the Swiss air traffic controller instructed the Tupolev to lose height as quickly as possible, contrary to the automatic warning he had just received.
  • Paul made a pass, then circled back round for his landing, as the revs dropped we lost height then glided in for a smooth landing.

lose one's mind (or one's marbles)

informal Go insane.
Example sentences
  • She laughed, her eyes weren't focused and she seemed to have lost her mind and gone insane.
  • Tragically, his boat was later found adrift, no sign of him on board, and in a filthy cabin were the insane diary entries of one who had clearly lost his mind.
  • But in his circles all neurological problems were known as having lost one's marbles.

lose sleep

[usually with negative] Worry about something: no one is losing any sleep over what he thinks of us
More example sentences
  • True, from time to time, feelings will be hurt in these discussions, but why lose sleep worrying about the self-esteem problems of politicians?
  • It is not something I lose sleep worrying about.
  • It's a brave move and I must admit I have lost sleep over it.

lose one's (or the) way

Become lost; fail to reach one’s destination.
Example sentences
  • Being unable to read sometimes slowed me down when I lost my way on the road and kept me from being all I could be, but it no longer saddened me.
  • The fog causes Alec to lose his way, and the moonlight comes out when he returns to Tess sleeping.
  • On the way to Aisha, a true indigenous Berber woman, we managed to lose the way many times.
7.1No longer have a clear idea of one’s purpose or motivation in an activity or business: the company has lost its way and should pull out of general insurance
More example sentences
  • It is this consent and the belief in that promise which is wavering as fighting spreads - and along with it the idea that they are losing their way and have no clear idea how to reassert themselves.
  • ‘It is clear that the Government have lost their way on law and order,’ he writes.
  • His lectures were extremely clear and well-organized; he never lost his way in complicated arguments.

you can't lose

Used to express the conviction that someone must inevitably profit from an action or undertaking: we’re offering them for only $5.00—you can’t lose!
More example sentences
  • For the most part, keep being a good friend and see what develops; Even if you don't become boyfriend / girlfriend, you'll have a great guy pal - either way, you can't lose!
  • Go for it - you can't lose.
  • Forget the nervous breakdown Helen, take my advice and go for it girl - you can't lose.

Phrasal verbs

lose out

Be deprived of an opportunity to do or obtain something; be disadvantaged: youngsters who were losing out on regular schooling
More example sentences
  • Many of these farmers did not have an opportunity to increase numbers and as a result, are losing out on any compensation.
  • That's a huge dent in our finances and obviously if we have to remain closed, we're losing out on a massive chunk of our income at the same time.
  • The recent Easter celebrations, which according to the Bulgarian tradition include eating lamb, were a little overshadowed by news that the country is losing out on lamb exports.
be unable to take advantage of, fail to benefit from
informal miss out on
1.1Be beaten in competition or replaced by: they were disappointed at losing out to Chicago in the playoffs
More example sentences
  • That's very similar to the arguments made by labor and farm groups in the U.S. concerned about losing out to competitors.
  • In a round robin competition they lost out by just one ace at the Semi-final stage.
  • Meanwhile the Junior Girls suffered a similar fate in their competition losing out also to the eventual winners in the semi-final, this time to a golden goal in extra time.


Old English losian 'perish, destroy', also 'become unable to find', from los 'loss'.

  • loose from Middle English:

    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 lose

abuse, accuse, adieux, amuse, bemuse, billets-doux, blues, booze, bruise, choose, Clews, confuse, contuse, cruise, cruse, Cruz, diffuse, do's, Druze, effuse, enthuse, excuse, fuse (US fuze), Hughes, incuse, interfuse, Mahfouz, mews, misuse, muse, news, ooze, Ouse, perfuse, peruse, rhythm-and-blues, ruse, schmooze, snooze, suffuse, Toulouse, transfuse, trews, use, Vaduz, Veracruz, who's, whose, youse

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: lose

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