Easily Confused Words: Lose v Loose

Lose and loose are easily confused words. Online, I see them confused for one another almost as often as their/there/they’re, and your/you.

The spell-check application of most word processing software programs would not catch a slip-up of these two words. Spell-check is looking for words that aren’t in its dictionary, and words that resemble words in its dictionary but are possibly spelled wrong. Spell-check isn’t perfect. It doesn’t know and can’t guess what word you wanted or what word you meant, it can only judge the words on the page. If you used words that are all spelled correctly, it gives you a pass anyway.

Autocorrect suggests words that start with the same letters. It’s suggesting what word you may want to save time, but quite often, its suggestions are pretty off base. They don’t help you out, but they do make you laugh.

Lose is a verb. It means to fail, to be beaten or defeated in a game or war.

Loose has multiple meanings.

  • As a verb, it means to be set free,  to remove from capture or bondage.
  • As a adjective, it means unbound or unorganized.

The following story uses both words correctly:

When Lisandréa wore her hair loose, the men in the village tended to lose their train of thought as she walked past. She was taking her goose eggs and goat milk to sell at the market. 

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