Third Wednesday: Lose/Loose and Loser/Looser

Repeat after me.  Spellcheck is not my friend.

I can’t begin to count the books, articles, and posts I’ve seen in which this month’s words are misused.  Most of the time, it’s “lose” and “loser” that get bashed, but on occasion “loose” and “looser” show up for their share of trouble.

Because Spring is finally on the way, and that makes everyone feel hopeful, let’s give those authors and editors the benefit of the doubt.  Let’s believe they chose the correct word and that after the manuscript was completed and turned in, that old villain, Spellcheck, turned himself on and crawled through the pages adding an extra “o.”

Curses!  Fooled again.


Lose – to be unable to find, to mislay something or someone.  To cause to go astray.  To fail to make proper use of.  To waste.

I did not lose my watch; someone took it from my locker.

It’s easy to lose your way on unmarked rural roads, especially after heavy snowstorms hide landmarks.


Loser – one who seems doomed to fail or to lose, or is easily victimized.  Someone who reacts to loss or defeat in a specific manner.

When Jordan didn’t get his way in the boardroom, he threw a tantrum, like the loser he is.

Helen knew she wouldn’t feel like such a loser if she had more confidence in her ability to ride herd over a dozen preschoolers.


Loose – not controlled, unrestrained, unbound.  Not tight.

History asks whether Custer was a loose cannon or did he lead his men with tried and true military strategies?

When the pigs got loose from their pen, the boys decided to practice their lassoing skills.


Looser – in a loose manner.  Not as tight as something else.

The first child in a family is constrained by dozens of rules, but the last operates under looser restrictions because their parents are too tired to care.

After Malorie lost twenty pounds, she donated her looser clothes to the St. Vincent de Paul Society and happily went shopping.


Here’s another look at Lose, Loser, Loose, and Looser.


I will never confess to turning the hens lose after the old rooster pecked my feet.

If I turn the screw to the right, it will be loser.

Hold onto your hat so you don’t loose it!

Henry whines all the time about being a big looser at his weekly poker game.


The only way you lose is if you don’t try your hardest.

The Me Generation was taught there cannot be a loser in any competition.

Hildegard slapped Sir Henrik as she shrieked, “Turn me loose, you churl!”

If this hinge were any looser, the door would fall out of its frame.


Need a memory trick to distinguish these words?  If it feels less tight or restricted, think, “’oo’, that’s a relief.”