loose (adj.)

early 13c., lous, loos, lowse, "not securely fixed;" c. 1300, "unbound, not confined," from Old Norse lauss "loose, free, unencumbered; vacant; dissolute," cognate with Old English leas "devoid of, false, feigned, incorrect" (source of -less) from Proto-Germanic *lausaz (source also of Danish løs "loose, untied," Swedish lös "loose, movable, detached," Middle Dutch, German los "loose, free," Gothic laus "empty, vain"), from PIE root *leu- "to loosen, divide, cut apart."

Meaning "not clinging, slack" (of clothes, etc.) is from mid-15c. Meaning "not bundled" is from late 15c. Sense of "unchaste, immoral" ("lax in conduct, free from moral restraint") is recorded from late 15c. Meaning "at liberty, free from obligation" is 1550s. Sense of "rambling, disconnected" is from 1680s. As an adverb, "loosely," from 1590s. A loose end was an extremity of string, etc., left hanging; hence something unfinished, undecided, unguarded (1540s); to be at loose ends is from 1807. Phrase on the loose "free, unrestrained" is from 1749 (upon the loose). Colloquial hang loose is from 1968.

loose (v.)

c. 1200, lousen, "to set free, turn loose," also "undo, untie, unfasten," from loose (adj.). Of arrows from c. 1400. Related: Loosed; loosing.

updated on December 07, 2018

Definitions of loose from WordNet
loose (adj.)
having escaped, especially from confinement;
criminals on the loose in the neighborhood
dogs loose on the streets
Synonyms: at large / escaped / on the loose
loose (adj.)
not compact or dense in structure or arrangement;
loose gravel
loose (adj.)
(of a ball in sport) not in the possession or control of any player;
a loose ball
loose (adj.)
not tight; not closely constrained or constricted or constricting;
the large shoes were very loose
loose clothing
loose (adj.)
not officially recognized or controlled;
a loose organization of the local farmers
Synonyms: informal
loose (adj.)
not literal;
a loose interpretation of what she had been told
Synonyms: free / liberal
loose (adj.)
emptying easily or excessively;
loose bowels
Synonyms: lax
loose (adj.)
not affixed;
the stamp came loose
Synonyms: unaffixed
loose (adj.)
not tense or taut;
the old man's skin hung loose and grey
Synonyms: slack
loose (adj.)
(of textures) full of small openings or gaps;
a loose weave
Synonyms: open
loose (adj.)
lacking a sense of restraint or responsibility;
a loose tongue
Synonyms: idle
loose (adj.)
not carefully arranged in a package;
a box of loose nails
loose (adj.)
casual and unrestrained in sexual behavior;
he was told to avoid loose (or light) women
Synonyms: easy / light / promiscuous / sluttish / wanton
loose (v.)
grant freedom to; free from confinement;
Synonyms: free / liberate / release / unloose / unloosen
loose (v.)
turn loose or free from restraint;
let loose mines
Synonyms: unleash / let loose
loose (v.)
make loose or looser;
Synonyms: loosen
loose (v.)
become loose or looser or less tight;
Synonyms: loosen / relax
loose (adv.)
without restraint;
cows in India are running loose
Synonyms: free
Etymologies are not definitions. From, not affiliated with etymonline.