Loose vs Lose

The words loose and lose are mixed up in writing; for some reason, many people write loose when they really mean lose. But there’s no reason to lose your mind worrying about this, just lose the extra o!


Loose is an adjective, the opposite of tight or contained.

My shoes are loose

I have a loose tooth

There’s a dog running loose in the street


Lose is a verb that means to suffer the loss of, to miss.

I win! You lose!

Don’t lose your keys

I never lose bets

The Bottom Line

Simple carelessness leads people to write loose when they mean lose. Just remember that lose has one o, and loose has two. Start with loose, lose an o, and what do you get? Lose!

12 comments for “Loose vs Lose

  1. Quizzie
    10 February 2014 at 09:45

    Funny, I’ve just come accross an official letter by the South African Government where they made the same mistake (to loose).

    • Matthew
      4 May 2014 at 09:27

      Coming from a South African, I’m not surprised. The lack of proper education in my country is disastrous.

  2. Stan
    9 April 2014 at 10:32

    Thank you for clearing this up. Your examples are great.

  3. Morne
    28 May 2014 at 12:47

    And ironically enough, it is the current SA government (ANC) that ensured that the education system went backwards …

    • Uh
      7 January 2015 at 00:50

      I don’t think that these kind of mistakes are made by SA government only. Go in Asian countries and even European Countries you’ll tell me. L’essentiel c’est de comprendre l’essentiel.

  4. Holly
    4 June 2014 at 21:31

    Don’t feel bad SA guys….it is just as bad in the US.

  5. Chris
    3 August 2014 at 09:05

    this seems to be a more recent mistake im wondering if there is some major cause of it (more recent as in a huge % of people making the same mistake)

  6. sydneymbs@gmail.com
    29 August 2014 at 01:39

    I’m from South Africa, too. And I went to rural area high school, but I know the difference between loose and lose. I think they probably made a mistake, so let’s not use political agenda.

  7. tgold
    6 September 2014 at 13:57

    Loose is also used as an adverb in: To play fast and loose.

  8. Lee
    13 November 2014 at 14:13

    You can use the word “lost” to clear up the confusion. Lose and lost are related in their definition and both have one “o”

    • Chris
      11 March 2015 at 02:25

      I liked the “lose an o” way of remembering, but the connection between “lost” and “lose” works well for me also.

      Thank you both.

      I think the confusion comes from being taught from a young age to “sound out” letters to form words, but that doesn’t always work in the English Language.

      To me the word “lose” has a longer “O” sound than “loose” which is said in a very short and snappy way. So I can totally understand the confusion between the two.

      Also the “magic e” which generally makes vowels sound longer, isn’t working in the same way here with “Lose” is it does in the word “Hope” for example. The two results sound completely different.

      English is a language that makes it’s own rules, breaks them, and then laughs in your face for the rest of your life.

  9. Tuna
    25 April 2015 at 19:00

    Thank you very much for the distinctive explanation..I have been using that word in an incorrect way.

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