Loose, Lose and Lost.

In my introduction to the LCB post last Friday on India’s National Anthem, I had commented on the word ‘Loose’ and its implications in India. Let me quote: “In many parts of India, the word ‘Loose’ indicates that a screw is loose for the person concerned, and I for one am now ‘loose’ alright. In Ashok’s language it is very elegantly called “thaley loozze” meaning “his head is screwed on loosely”. Ashok, I am sure will appreciate what I mean here. Far from implying that the other four bloggers in the consortium are also “loose”, let me direct you to Ashok, Conrad, Grannymar, Magpie and Marianna, in politically correct alphebetical order.” The LCB is getting looser with another blogger joining in this coming Friday, and one hopes that it will keep growing.

In a comment on the post via email, Maynard said that the word loose means something totally different in the USA. Since then, I have been collecting various uses that the word is used for and inevitably ran into another similar sounding word, ‘lose’, often used erroneously to mean ‘loose’ and the past tense of it ‘lost’. We had a bit of an exchange on it some time ago, if I remember right in Magpie’s post too.

Here are some that I have been able to gather to show the range of usage of these three words. By no means is the list exhaustive and there may well be other uses too.


On the loose – untied, often said of Sales Reps on tour, away from wives.
Loose for sea – originally to imply that hausers were not tied properly, can be extended to say, but tight for land.
Get loose – free oneself from fetters. Any number of usages.
On the loose – Gone berserk, or escaped, usually from the law.
Loose moraled – possibly the usage that Maynard had in mind.
Let loose – usually to slacken discipline, but also implying letting invectives fly in a harangue.
Loose fish – fish that is away from its school, so a truant student and other such cases of playing hooky.
Loose leafed notebook – as opposed to a bound one.
Loose formation – usually used for aircraft or boats in an armada.
Loose tongue – don’t we all have them?
Loose thread – I am likely to if I do not concentrate.
Loose woman, why not loose man? – Perhaps Maynard can explain!


In the case of ‘Lose”, it implies something totally different. Failing to keep or failing to take possession of something.

Lose Caste – An archaic term pertaining to India where one was excommunicated from one’s caste for some infringement or error. I have not come across anyone losing caste in India recently, though in some parts of our great nation, some cases do get reported primarily due to inter caste elopers causing embarrassment to their castes. Often resulting in honour killings.
Lose ground – originally a phrase used in battles where one side lost ground to the other, or a wrestler for similar reasons. Now used in arguments, primarily in legal cases, and to indicate loss of market share for products or services.
Lose heart – used in two distinctly different ways; one to lose one’s heart to someone and the other to lose courage or energy while engaged in some activity.
Lose oneself in – get engrossed and forget about surroundings.
Lose one’s head – get angry or also afraid and do something stupid.
Lose out – in sports, arguments etc to see the other side win.
Lose sight of – overlook, reach a position from where something visible earlier is no longer visible.

LOST – the past tense for ‘Lose’. Strange that the past tense for ‘Loose’ is not ‘Loost’! May be we should start a new fad and find ways of using the word somehow.

Vanished – gone from view
Absorbed – absorbed in something completely oblivious to everything else
Bewildered – do not know where to go or what to do
Abstracted – unable to fathom what is going on
Forgotten – not in current consideration
Unwon – that is a coinded word to indicate that someone won over the other who did not.
Gone – like from memory
Wasted – a fortune, opportunity etc.
Irretrievable – like something dropped in a well or a lake

‘Lost’ is also used in conjunction with other word or words like:

Lost for words
Lost to – the world, humanity etc
Lost cause
Lost sheep – as in the flower children, beatnicks, hippys etc. in the eyes of the non lost sheep!
Lost soul

I am now lost for words to continue with this subject. Do feel free to add or comment or criticize. I am also puzzled that Ashok has not said anything about ‘thaley looje’.

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