Meaning of “loose” in the English Dictionary

"loose" in British English

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uk /luːs/ us /luːs/

loose adjective (NOT FASTENED)

B2 not firmly held or fastened in place:

There were some loose wires hanging out of the wall.
The nails in the wall had worked themselves loose.
The prisoners were so thin that their skin hung loose.

B2 Loose hair is not tied back:

Her hair was hanging loose to her shoulders.

Loose things are not held together or attached to anything else:

A few loose sheets of paper were lying around.

More examples

  • A wire has come loose at the back.
  • It's no wonder your shaver isn't working. There's a loose connection in the plug.
  • Snowflakes are loose aggregates of ice crystals.
  • I put the loose floorboard back and nailed it down.
  • The machine is working erratically - there must be a loose connection.

loose adjective (NOT TIGHT)

B1 (of clothes) not fitting closely to the body:

More examples

  • Loose clothing will keep you comfortable.
  • He wore a loose pair of trousers.
  • She's lost so much weight, all her clothes are loose.
  • She wore a loose jumper.
  • Make sure the collar is loose enough.

loose adjective (NOT EXACT)

C2 not tightly controlled, or not exact:

It's a fairly loose adaptation of the novel.
It's only a loose translation of the poem.

More examples

  • I can give you a loose figure.
  • It's a loose equivalent of the French version.
  • I can do you a loose translation.
  • The story has a loose basis in fact.
  • His latest movie is a loose adaptation of King Lear.

loose adjective (IMMORAL)

old-fashioned disapproving having low morals; sexually free:

a loose woman

looseverb [ T ]

uk /luːs/ us /luːs/

(Definition of “loose” from the Cambridge Advanced Learner’s Dictionary & Thesaurus © Cambridge University Press)

"loose" in American English

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looseadjective [ -er/-est only ]

us /lus/

loose adjective [ -er/-est only ] (NOT ATTACHED)

not firmly attached in place:

I’d better sew that loose button before it comes off.
A few loose sheets of paper were lying around.

If an animal is loose, it is not tied up or caged in.

loose adjective [ -er/-est only ] (NOT TIGHT)

not tight; not fitting closely to the body or the thing that is covered:

Loose can also mean not closely following something original, or not exact:

The film is a loose adaptation of Conrad’s novel.

(Definition of “loose” from the Cambridge Academic Content Dictionary © Cambridge University Press)

"loose" in Business English

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uk /luːs/ us

not tightly held together or to anything else:

According to research, sales of tea bags, loose tea and instant tea have all declined.

His customers preferred the vegetables to be sold loose, so that they could choose the ones they wanted.

(Definition of “loose” from the Cambridge Business English Dictionary © Cambridge University Press)