adj. loos·er, loos·est
1. Not fastened, restrained, or contained: loose bricks.
2. Not taut, fixed, or rigid: a loose anchor line; a loose chair leg.
3. Free from confinement or imprisonment; unfettered: criminals loose in the neighborhood; dogs that are loose on the streets.
4. Not tight-fitting or tightly fitted: loose shoes.
5. Not bound, bundled, stapled, or gathered together: loose papers.
6. Not compact or dense in arrangement or structure: loose gravel.
7. Lacking a sense of restraint or responsibility; idle: loose talk.
8. Not formal; relaxed: a loose atmosphere at the club.
9. Lacking conventional moral restraint in sexual behavior.
10. Not literal or exact: a loose translation.
11. Characterized by a free movement of fluids in the body: a loose cough; loose bowels.
In a loose manner.
tr.v. loosed, loos·ing, loos·esIdiom:
1. To let loose; release: loosed the dogs.
2. To make loose; undo: loosed his belt.
3. To cast loose; detach: hikers loosing their packs at camp.
4. To let fly; discharge: loosed an arrow.
5. To release pressure or obligation from; absolve: loosed her from the responsibility.
6. To make less strict; relax: a leader's strong authority that was loosed by easy times.
on the loose
1. At large; free.
2. Acting in an uninhibited fashion.
[Middle English louse, los, from Old Norse lauss; see leu- in the Appendix of Indo-European roots.]
Synonyms: loose, lax, slack1
These adjectives mean not tautly bound, held, or fastened: loose reins; a lax rope; slack sails.
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.