from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • adjective Not fastened, restrained, or contained.
  • adjective Not taut, fixed, or rigid.
  • adjective Free from confinement or imprisonment; unfettered.
  • adjective Not tight-fitting or tightly fitted.
  • adjective Not bound, bundled, stapled, or gathered together.
  • adjective Not compact or dense in arrangement or structure.
  • adjective Lacking a sense of restraint or responsibility; idle.
  • adjective Not formal; relaxed.
  • adjective Lacking conventional moral restraint in sexual behavior.
  • adjective Not literal or exact.
  • adjective Characterized by a free movement of fluids in the body.
  • adverb In a loose manner.
  • transitive verb To let loose; release.
  • transitive verb To make loose; undo.
  • transitive verb To cast loose; detach.
  • transitive verb To let fly; discharge.
  • transitive verb To release pressure or obligation from; absolve.
  • transitive verb To make less strict; relax.
  • idiom (on the loose) At large; free.
  • idiom (on the loose) Acting in an uninhibited fashion.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • Not fast or confined; not fastened; unattached; free from restraint or obligation; not bound to another or together; without bonds, ties, or attachments; at liberty: as, loose sheets of a book; loose tresses of hair; loose change in one's pocket; to break loose; to be set loose; to cut loose from bad habits.
  • Not tight or close; without close union or adjustment; slightly or slackly joined: as, a loose knot; loose garments; a loose league or confederation.
  • Not dense or compact; having interstices or intervals; open or expanded: as, cloth of loose texture; a loose order of battle.
  • Not concise or condensed; wanting precision or connection of parts; diffuse; rambling: as, a loose style of writing; loose reasoning; a loose array of facts.
  • Not exact in meaning; indefinite; vague; uncertain.
  • Lax; relaxed; slack; wanting retentiveness or power of restraint: as, loose bowels; loose ties; a loose bond of union.
  • Lax in character or quality; not strict or exact; careless; slovenly: as, a loose construction of the constitution; a loose mode of conducting business; loose morality.
  • Lax in principle or conduct; free from moral restraint; wanton; dissolute; unchaste: as, a loose woman; loose behavior.
  • Disengaged; free; independent: with from or of.
  • Seemingly communicative; frank; open; candid.
  • noun Freedom from restraint; license.
  • noun The act of letting go or letting fly; discharge; shot.
  • noun A solution of a problem or explanation of a difficulty.
  • noun The privilege of turning out cattle on commons.
  • In archery, to release (the bowstring) after the bow is drawn, thus discharging the arrow.
  • In chem., not combined with anything else: as, carbon dioxid loose in the blood. The word free is more commonly used in this sense.
  • In geology, incoherent, as unconsolidated sands.
  • In coal-mining, free at the ends or sides: applied to a working-place when the coal has been previously mined on both sides: as, loose at one end, loose at one side, etc.
  • noun In Rugby foot-ball, that part of the play in which the ball travels freely from player to player, as distinguished from the scrimmage.
  • noun In mining, the end of a shift. Also loosing-time. When the workmen leave, the pit is said to be ‘loosed out.’
  • noun In archery: The act of releasing the bow-string and discharging the arrow.
  • noun The mode of performing this act, which differs among different peoples.
  • To make loose or free; release from that which restrains, confines, or hampers; set at liberty; disengage; discharge from constraint, obligation, or penalty.
  • To disengage the hold of; undo; unfasten; untie.
  • To relax; loosen; make or let loose, partially or wholly: as, to loose sail; to loose one's hold or grasp.
  • To solve; explain.
  • Synonyms To unfasten, let go, detach, disconnect, absolve, acquit.
  • To perform the act of loosening; make or set loose something; let go a hold, unmoor a ship, shoot an arrow, or the like.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • noun obsolete Freedom from restraint.
  • noun A letting go; discharge.


from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

[Middle English louse, los, from Old Norse lauss; see leu- in Indo-European roots.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

Old Norse lauss


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  • "The privilege of turning out cattle on commons." --CD&C

    May 17, 2012