lose (v.)

Old English losian "be lost, perish," from los "destruction, loss," from Proto-Germanic *lausa- (source also of Old Norse los "the breaking up of an army;" Old English forleosan "to lose, destroy," Old Frisian forliasa, Old Saxon farliosan, Middle Dutch verliesen, Old High German firliosan, German verlieren, as well as English -less, loss, loose). The Germanic word is from PIE *leus-, an extended form of root *leu- "to loosen, divide, cut apart."

The verb also is merged with, or has taken the (weaker) sense of, the related Middle English leese "be deprived of, lose" (Old English leosan, a class II strong verb whose past participle loren survives in forlorn and love-lorn), from Proto-Germanic *leusanan (source also of Old High German virliosan, German verlieren, Old Frisian urliasa, Gothic fraliusan "to lose").

Hence lose in the transitive senses "part with accidentally, be deprived of, miss the possession or knowledge of" (money, blood, sleep, hair, etc.), c. 1200; "fail to keep, lose track of" (mid-13c.). Meaning "fail to preserve or maintain" is from mid-15c. Meaning "fail to gain or win" (something) is from c.1300; intransitive meaning "fail to win" (a game, contest, lawsuit, etc.) is from late 14c. Meaning "to cause (someone) to lose his way" is from 1640s; meaning "cease to have, be rid of" (something unwanted) is from 1660s.

To lose heart "become discouraged" is from 1744; to lose (one's) heart "fall in love" is from 1630s. To lose (one's) mind "become insane" is attested from c. 1500. To lose out "fail" is 1858, American English. To lose it "become distraught, break down and lose control of oneself" is by 1990s; the it probably being one's self-control or grip on reality. Related: Lost; losing.

updated on December 05, 2018

Definitions of lose from WordNet

lose (v.)
fail to keep or to maintain; cease to have, either physically or in an abstract sense;
She lost her purse when she left it unattended on her seat
lose (v.)
fail to win;
We lost the battle but we won the war
lose (v.)
suffer the loss of a person through death or removal;
The couple that wanted to adopt the child lost her when the biological parents claimed her
She lost her husband in the war
lose (v.)
miss from one's possessions; lose sight of;
I've lost my glasses again!
lose (v.)
allow to go out of sight or mind;
the lost tribe
lose the crowds by climbing a mountain
The detective lost the man he was shadowing after he had to stop at a red light
lose (v.)
fail to make money in a business; make a loss or fail to profit;
I lost thousands of dollars on that bad investment!
Synonyms: turn a loss
lose (v.)
fail to get or obtain;
I lost the opportunity to spend a year abroad
lose (v.)
fail to perceive or to catch with the senses or the mind;
We lost part of what he said
Synonyms: miss
lose (v.)
withdraw, as from reality;
he lost himslef in his music
lose (v.)
be set at a disadvantage;
The painting loses something in this light
Synonyms: suffer
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