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Etymology 1[edit]

From Middle English loos, los, lous, from Old Norse lauss, from Proto-Germanic *lausaz, whence also -less, leasing; from Proto-Indo-European *lewH-, *lū- (to untie, set free, separate), whence also lyo-, -lysis, via Ancient Greek.


  • enPR: lo͞os, IPA(key): /luːs/
  • (file)
  • Rhymes: -uːs


loose (third-person singular simple present looses, present participle loosing, simple past and past participle loosed)

  1. (transitive) To let loose, to free from restraints.
  2. (transitive) To unfasten, to loosen.
  3. (transitive) To make less tight, to loosen.
  4. (intransitive) Of a grip or hold, to let go.
  5. (archery) to shoot (an arrow)
  6. (obsolete) To set sail.
    • 1611: King James Bible, Acts 13:13
      Now when Paul and his company loosed from Paphos, they came to Perga in Pamphylia: and John departing from them returned to Jerusalem.
  7. (obsolete) To solve; to interpret.
    (Can we find and add a quotation of Spenser to this entry?)

Derived terms[edit]



loose (comparative looser, superlative loosest)

  1. Not fixed in place tightly or firmly.
    This wheelbarrow has a loose wheel.
  2. Not held or packaged together.
    You can buy apples in a pack, but they are cheaper loose.
  3. Not under control.
    The dog is loose again.
    • 1713, Joseph Addison, Cato, published 1712, [Act 5, scene 4]:
      Now I stand / Loose of my vow; but who knows Cato's thoughts?
  4. Not fitting closely
    I wear loose clothes when it is hot.
  5. Not compact.
    It is difficult walking on loose gravel.
    a cloth of loose texture
  6. Relaxed.
    She danced with a loose flowing movement.
  7. Not precise or exact; vague; indeterminate.
    a loose way of reasoning
    • (Can we date this quote by Whewell and provide title, author's full name, and other details?)
      The comparison employed [] must be considered rather as a loose analogy than as an exact scientific explanation.
  8. Indiscreet.
    Loose talk costs lives.
  9. (somewhat dated) Free from moral restraint; immoral, unchaste.
  10. (not comparable, sports) Not being in the possession of any competing team during a game.
    He caught an elbow going after a loose ball.
    The puck was momentarily loose right in front of the net.
    • 2011 September 28, Tom Rostance, “Arsenal 2 - 1 Olympiakos”, in BBC Sport[1]:
      Tomas Rosicky released the left-back with a fine pass but his low cross was cut out by Ivan Marcano. However the Brazilian was able to collect the loose ball, cut inside and roll a right-footed effort past Franco Costanzo at his near post.
  11. (dated) Not costive; having lax bowels.
    (Can we find and add a quotation of John Locke to this entry?)
Derived terms[edit]
The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables, removing any numbers. Numbers do not necessarily match those in definitions. See instructions at Wiktionary:Entry layout#Translations.


loose (plural looses)

  1. (archery) The release of an arrow.
  2. (obsolete) A state of laxity or indulgence; unrestrained freedom, abandonment.
  3. (rugby) All play other than set pieces (scrums and line-outs).
    • 2011, Tom Fordyce, Rugby World Cup 2011: England 12-19 France [2]
      The defeat will leave manager Martin Johnson under pressure after his gamble of pairing Jonny Wilkinson and Toby Flood at 10 and 12 failed to ignite the England back line, while his forwards were repeatedly second best at the set-piece and in the loose.
  4. Freedom from restraint.
    (Can we find and add a quotation of Prior to this entry?)
    • (Can we date this quote by Addison and provide title, author's full name, and other details?)
      Vent all its griefs, and give a loose to sorrow.
    • 1749, Henry Fielding, The History of Tom Jones, a Foundling. In Six Volumes, volume (please specify |volume=I to VI), London: Printed by A[ndrew] Millar, [], OCLC 928184292:
      The doctor now interposed, and prevented the effects of a wrath which was kindling between Jones and Thwackum; after which the former gave a loose to mirth, sang two or three amorous songs, and fell into every frantic disorder which unbridled joy is apt to inspire []
  5. A letting go; discharge.
    (Can we find and add a quotation of Ben Jonson to this entry?)
Derived terms[edit]



  1. (archery) begin shooting; release your arrows
  • (archery: begin shooting): fast

Related terms[edit]

Etymology 2[edit]



  1. Misspelling of lose.
    I'm going to loose this game.
Derived terms[edit]




Hypercorrectively from English lose or from looseur.


loose f (uncountable)

  1. Great pettiness, shabbiness