Tuesday, 16 February 2016

Loose vs lose

There are lots of pairs of words that are often confused, at least according to my Facebook feeds. And for people who don't read a lot, or hear people using them correctly, I kinda, sorta, almost get it. But this one bugs me more than most. It might be that I've subscribed (sorry, followed) a few LCHF/Banting/Keto pages, so I'm seeing it more than usual, but it's fingernails down the blackboard for me. They don't even sound the same!



Loose rhymes with goose.
Loose is almost always an adjective or adverb. It describes something. A loose tongue, at a loose end, loose pants. As a verb, it means to release (as in 'loose the hounds')
Lefty-loosey, righty-tighty. (Which is all well and good, but is 'right' clockwise or anti-clockwise?)

Lose rhyme with booze.
Lose is a verb. It's something you do, or fail to do. You lose your keys, you lose weight, you lose the fight.
Use it or lose it. (Yes, okay, 'use' can rhyme with loose but only when used as a noun.)

If it helps, 'lose' has lost an 'o'.

In your defence, the two words are cognate (from the same root word), PIE leu- (to loosen, divide, cut apart). Some other cognates are
  • LEASE - letting loose of property
  • LEASH - letting an animal out of a pen to accompany you
  • LYSIS - loosening of components (paralysis, lipolysis)
  • SOLVE - to unfasten (dissolve, solution, absolve)
  • LAX - to loosen or be loose (laxative, laxity)

Resources
Shorter Oxford English Dictionary on Historical Principals (I bought my version in 1993)

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