‘Lose’ vs ‘Loose’: What’s the Difference?

By Amy Gilmore, updated on May 2, 2023

Stuck trying to figure out the difference between lose vs. loose? I can help!

Here is a quick answer: 

  • Lose a present-tense transitive verb that means misplacing, wasting, or being stripped of something, 
  • Loose is an adjective that means something is not fastened, tightened, or secured.

However, there is more to it. And knowing how to pronounce, define, and use these confusing words will help you improve your written and verbal communication skills. So, keep reading.

When to Use 'Lose' vs. 'Loose'

As I mentioned, 'lose' is an action word, and the present-tense form of the word lost. 'Loose', on the other hand, is an adjective that describes something that is not securely fastened or something that is not tight.

So, how do you know which to use and when? 

  • Use 'lose' when talking about you or someone no longer having possession or being unable to find something.

For example, you could say:

We told the students to purchase travel insurance so they do not lose their money if they cannot go on the trip. 

  • Use 'loose' when discussing something baggy or not fastened securely.

For example, I may say something like:

I can't believe how loose my clothes fit after that diet. 

How to Use 'Lose' vs. 'Loose' Correctly

Deciding between 'lose' vs. 'loose' is confusing because they have similar spellings. However, their meanings and parts of speech are unique. 'Lose' is a transitive or intransitive verb indicating someone has/is/will experience a loss.

For example:

  • You could 'lose' your right to vote if convicted of a felony.

'Loose' is an adjective that describes the state of something being that describes a subject, such as clothing, parts, morals, etc.

For example:

  • She noticed the parts on the car were 'loose' after she picked it up from the mechanic's shop.

Difference Between Verbs and Adjectives

You can use 'lose' and 'loose' together. However, you can't use them interchangeably. That is because an adjective describes a noun, and a verb is a word that shows action.

For example:

  • If your ring is 'loose,' you could 'lose' it.
  • You could 'lose' your job over 'loose' lips.

As you can see in the examples above, 'loose' describes the ring and lips, 'lose' is the action. 'Loosen' is the verb form of 'loose.' You can use it to ask or say that someone is making something 'loose' or 'looser.'

Because 'lose' is already a verb, no alternate verb form spelling exists. So, you would never use 'losen.'

For example:

  • Will you please 'loosen' the dog's collar? It looks like it is too tight.

Definition of 'Lose': What Does 'Lose' Mean?

Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines 'lose' as:

  • To misplace something from one's custody or possession.

It can also mean:

  • To misplace from the last place an item was
  • To damn someone
  • To sway from allegiance
  • Freed from confinement

Phrases Containing 'Lose'

  • Lose your mind
  • Lose your attitude
  • Losing bet
  • Lose it
  • Love it or lose it
  • Lose weight
  • Lose money
  • Lose faith
  • Lose your life
  • Lose your savings
  • Lose an investment

Definition of 'Loose': What Does 'Loose' Mean?

The same dictionary defines 'loose' as an adjective meaning:

  • having the ability to move easily

It can also mean:

  • Baggy
  • Not tight fighting
  • Unsecured
  • Lax
  • Easy to pass through
  • Watery or poorly formed
  • Not strictly followed
  • A generalization

Phrases Containing 'Loose'

  • Loose morals
  • Loose lips
  • Loose laws
  • Loosely based
  • Loosey Goosey
  • Let Loose
  • Loose clothes
  • Get loose
  • Loose muscles
  • Loose skin
  • Loose shoes
  • Turn loose
  • Got loose

Pronunciation: How to Say 'Lose' vs. 'Loose'

The differing pronunciations of these two words will help you determine which to use.

So, here is a little guide: 

  • To pronounce 'lose' correctly, use the phonetic spelling:


  • To pronounce 'loose' properly, say it according to this phonetic spelling:


How to Use 'Lose' and 'Loose' in a Sentence

You understand how to use 'lose' and 'loose' and how to differentiate between the two. Now, look at these example sentences to ensure you have them down.


  • I do not know how you do not lose your mind when climbing hundreds of feet up that tower.
  • Lose your attitude. It is getting old, especially after I just worked all day.
  • Your company will lose sales if customers discover how you treat your factory workers.
  • Never lose sight of your goals.
  • Do not lose faith, there is a light at the end of the tunnel.
  • When you lose your job, you learn to be happy with less.
  • Try not to lose control of your emotions when you speak to him.


  • Loose lips tell it all.
  • You do not have to tie it tight. A loose knot will hold it.
  • The loose grain is cheaper because you can buy it in bulk.
  • Loose regulations have a substantial impact on our environment.
  • Your loose interpretation of the play was surprisingly accurate.
  • The pro se defendant based his legal defense on loose interpretations of the law.


  • Your loose morals may cause him to lose respect for you.
  • The defendant's loose interpretation of the law caused him to lose his case.
  • I didn't know you would be so loose with the information. You may cause us to lose the account.
  • Loose security protocols caused the company to lose millions of customers.
  • If you tie it too loose, you may lose your Christmas tree while driving down the freeway.

Final Advice the Difference Between 'Lose' vs. 'Loose'

When deciding whether to use 'lose' vs. 'loose,' you should be able to choose the correct word now. However, here is a quick recap: 

  • 'Lose' is a verb that means to misplace something. 
  • 'Loose' is an adjective that describes a noun as being insecure, baggy, or not secure. 

If you have trouble in the future, come back for a quick review. You can also check out the other guides here for help with other confusing words and phrases.

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Written By:
Amy Gilmore
Amy Gilmore is one of the lead freelance writers for WritingTips.org. She has been a professional writer and editor for the past eight years. She developed a love of language arts and literature in school and decided to become a professional freelance writer after a demanding career in real estate. Amy is constantly learning to become a better writer and loves sharing tips with other writers who want to do the same.

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