'Lose' or 'Loose'? What Is the Difference? | Mastering Grammar

(Last Updated: 26 February 2024)

'Lose' or 'Loose'?

Lose or Loose: What Is the Difference?

The words lose and loose are often confused because they have similar spellings.

Lose is a verb meaning 'to no longer have something', 'to have less of something', or 'to be defeated':

Stay away from this hotel if you don't want to lose your money and have your things stolen.

Anna is trying to lose weight.

If you don't want to lose the match, you should start practising now.

Loose is an adjective or describing word meaning 'not firmly fixed' or 'not fitting closely':

There are various treatment options for a loose tooth.

Without socks, my shoes are too loose.

Tips for Remembering the Difference

With lose, you lose the second O.

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Examples from the Media

When you lose your job, often your first thoughts will turn towards money and the need to keep the financial stream flowing. —The Sydney Morning Herald (2022)

In 1962, I placed a £50 bet that my team, Sheffield Wednesday, would lose a match against Ipswich Town. The Guardian (2004)

A veteran engineer dubbed 'Hong Kong's Detective Galileo' has questioned the MTR Corporation's explanation that a loose billboard component was responsible for a rare accident in which a pair of carriage doors fell off a moving train as it pulled into a busy station on Thursday. —South China Morning Post (2021)

Wearing loose clothing, I clambered into a spa bed—lined with plastic on the top and bottom—while Smola pulled heated linens over me. Toronto Star (2019)


Choose the correct answer to complete each sentence.

1. I usually prefer wearing lose/loose clothing.

2. One can easily lose/loose a child in a crowded shopping centre.

3. I'm afraid you'll lose/loose your way in the dark.

4. Everyone must use oxygen masks if the plane loses/looses cabin pressure.

5. The lid feels a little lose/loose for the pot.

Answer Key

1. loose    2. lose    3. lose    4. loses    5. loose

Real-World Examples of Misuse

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