1. An arduous or nearly hopeless undertaking.
2. An advance guard of troops sent on a hazardous mission.
[By folk etymology from Dutch verloren hoop, advance guard : verloren, past participle of verliezen, to lose; see leu- in the Appendix of Indo-European roots + hoop, troop.]
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2020 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices
Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:
The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.