Definitions

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

  • adj. Not fastened, restrained, or contained: loose bricks.
  • adj. Not taut, fixed, or rigid: a loose anchor line; a loose chair leg.
  • adj. Free from confinement or imprisonment; unfettered: criminals loose in the neighborhood; dogs that are loose on the streets.
  • adj. Not tight-fitting or tightly fitted: loose shoes.
  • adj. Not bound, bundled, stapled, or gathered together: loose papers.
  • adj. Not compact or dense in arrangement or structure: loose gravel.
  • adj. Lacking a sense of restraint or responsibility; idle: loose talk.
  • adj. Not formal; relaxed: a loose atmosphere at the club.
  • adj. Lacking conventional moral restraint in sexual behavior.
  • adj. Not literal or exact: a loose translation.
  • adj. Characterized by a free movement of fluids in the body: a loose cough; loose bowels.
  • adv. In a loose manner.
  • transitive v. To let loose; release: loosed the dogs.
  • transitive v. To make loose; undo: loosed his belt.
  • transitive v. To cast loose; detach: hikers loosing their packs at camp.
  • transitive v. To let fly; discharge: loosed an arrow.
  • transitive v. To release pressure or obligation from; absolve: loosed her from the responsibility.
  • transitive v. To make less strict; relax: a leader's strong authority that was loosed by easy times.
  • intransitive v. To become loose.
  • intransitive v. To discharge a missile; fire.
  • idiom on the loose At large; free.
  • idiom on the loose Acting in an uninhibited fashion.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • v. To let loose, to free from restraints.
  • v. To unfasten, to loosen.
  • v. To make less tight, to loosen.
  • v. Of a grip or hold, to let go.
  • v. to shoot (an arrow)
  • v. To set sail.
  • adj. Not fixed in place tightly or firmly.
  • adj. Not held or packaged together.
  • adj. Not under control.
  • adj. Not fitting closely
  • adj. Not compact.
  • adj. Relaxed.
  • adj. Indiscreet.
  • adj. Free from moral restraint; immoral, unchaste.
  • adj. Not being in the possession of any competing team during a game.
  • n. The release of an arrow.
  • n. A state of laxity or indulgence; unrestrained freedom, abandonment.
  • interj. begin shooting; release your arrows
  • v. Common misspelling of lose.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • adj. Unbound; untied; unsewed; not attached, fastened, fixed, or confined.
  • adj. Free from constraint or obligation; not bound by duty, habit, etc.; -- with from or of.
  • adj. Not tight or close.
  • adj. Not dense, close, compact, or crowded.
  • adj. Not precise or exact; vague; indeterminate.
  • adj. Not strict in matters of morality; not rigid according to some standard of right.
  • adj. Unconnected; rambling.
  • adj. Lax; not costive; having lax bowels.
  • adj. Dissolute; unchaste.
  • adj. Containing or consisting of obscene or unchaste language.
  • n. Freedom from restraint.
  • n. A letting go; discharge.
  • v. To untie or unbind; to free from any fastening; to remove the shackles or fastenings of; to set free; to relieve.
  • v. To release from anything obligatory or burdensome; to disengage; hence, to absolve; to remit.
  • v. To relax; to loosen; to make less strict.
  • v. To solve; to interpret.
  • intransitive v. To set sail.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • 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.
  • n. Freedom from restraint; license.
  • n. The act of letting go or letting fly; discharge; shot.
  • n. A solution of a problem or explanation of a difficulty.
  • n. The privilege of turning out cattle on commons.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • n. In Rugby foot-ball, that part of the play in which the ball travels freely from player to player, as distinguished from the scrimmage.
  • n. In mining, the end of a shift. Also loosing-time. When the workmen leave, the pit is said to be ‘loosed out.’
  • n. In archery: The act of releasing the bow-string and discharging the arrow.
  • n. The mode of performing this act, which differs among different peoples.
  • In archery, to release (the bowstring) after the bow is drawn, thus discharging the arrow.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • adj. not tight; not closely constrained or constricted or constricting
  • adj. not literal
  • v. make loose or looser
  • adj. emptying easily or excessively
  • adj. not carefully arranged in a package
  • adj. not officially recognized or controlled
  • adj. (of textures) full of small openings or gaps
  • v. grant freedom to; free from confinement
  • adj. casual and unrestrained in sexual behavior
  • adv. without restraint
  • adj. (of a ball in sport) not in the possession or control of any player
  • adj. lacking a sense of restraint or responsibility
  • adj. having escaped, especially from confinement
  • adj. not tense or taut
  • v. turn loose or free from restraint
  • v. become loose or looser or less tight
  • adj. not compact or dense in structure or arrangement
  • adj. not affixed

Etymologies

Middle English louse, los, from Old Norse lauss.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
Old Norse lauss (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • There were loose ends, but there always are; that's why you have the phrase loose ends.

    Wake Up, Sir!

  • "I hate to use the word loose cannon, but he is," she said "It distresses me that Newt is pulling ahead, because I don't think he's electable at all."

    NYT > Home Page

  • (B) loose-slippings: never saw or heard it; the term loose chippings refers to gravel or crushed stone that has not yet been bonded into fresh asphalt in a road repair.

    VERBATIM: The Language Quarterly Vol V No 2

  • In Poland, he sought to convey lessons from those experiences to urge finance ministers from the 17-nation euro zone to speak with one voice and halt what he called "loose talk about dismantling the institutions of the euro."

    U.S. Struggles for Traction on Europe Crisis

  • Also Wednesday, U.S. Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates warned against what he called "loose talk" about the ease of establishing a no-fly zone.

    Obama signals willingness to intervene militarily in Libya if crisis worsens

  • U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates has decried what he called "loose talk" about establishing a no-fly zone in Libya, saying such an operation would require a military strike.

    US Defense Chief: Libya No-Fly Zone a 'Big Operation'

  • Between dodging the bullets of the gang members who are infuriated by Alex's most recent courtroom victory and keeping a rendezvous with a charming restaurateur, a serial killer on the loose is the last thing she needs on her plate right now.

    Killer Heat by Linda Fairstein: Book summary

  • Senator Nunn, you know a lot about what they call loose nukes out there.

    CNN Transcript Dec 30, 2007

  • The amount of the loose is according to the newspapers near a Million in US Dollars.

    Terrible fire at Paamul

  • There is a fair amount of damage to landscaping and what I call loose-end (ph) damages, lost roof tiles, the ripped screens, damaged patio enclosures, and that time of thing.

    CNN Transcript Oct 24, 2005

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

    May 17, 2012