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Eric Pinder

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Losing One's Mind: Loose vs Lose
by Eric Pinder   
Rated "PG" by the Author.
Last edited: Thursday, September 25, 2008
Posted: Thursday, September 25, 2008

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I think I'm going to "loose" my mind if everyone keeps misspelling the word lose.

"Lose" is a verb. You can lose your wallet, lose a game, or (like me) lose your mind. Paul Simon even thought of fifty (well, five, but I guess that didn't make as good a title) ways to lose a lover.

A bet you're unlikely to win is a losing proposition. If you're playing Scrabble and your opponent is winning, that means you're losing. You're not loosing. No matter how lopsided the score, you can take comfort from the fact that you're never, ever loosing a game--unless the board is stuck in a tree branch after a tornado and you're knocking it loose.

It's possible to be a loser, but you're only looser if you just practiced yoga.

"Loose" is sometimes a verb and often an adjective and, increasingly, a pain in the neck to proofreaders, editors, and perfectionists everywhere. Because almost no one uses it correctly anymore.

You have loose change in your pocket. Loose clothes don't fit very tightly. The dog slipped his leash and has gotten loose. If you're loosing chaos on the world, you're wreaking havoc. You're only losing chaos if your girlfriend's name is Chaos and she wants to break up.

Tom Brady might fumble, resulting in a loose ball on the field, and the Patriots might or might not go on to lose the game. But the Patriots will never, ever loose a Superbowl. A player can be a gracious winner or a sore loser. Never a sore looser. Though I suppose it could be argued that a battered, injured quarterback who lets go of the ball after being hit by a 400-pound linebacker is a kind of "sore looser."

A zookeeper can lose a Siberian tiger. (The tiger might die, or zookeeper might forget which cage he put the tiger in.) Or a tiger might get loose (i.e. escape), as happened at the San Diego zoo in December 2007. A zookeeper can even loose (i.e. set free) a tiger by opening the cage door, but, well, that wouldn't be a good idea.



I'm not sure what happened circa 2005 to cause 80% of the English-speaking world to suddenly forget the difference between loose and lose, loosing and losing. I never noticed this error before then. Suddenly it's everywhere. Even professionally edited newspapers and magazines and Internet articles are starting to make the mistake.

What puzzles me most about this trend is that "loose" is such a common, useful word. If we absolutely must have to have a widespread misspelling of lose, at least let it be something like luse. That way we won't lose loose. (There, I've loosed luse on the world, in the hope that it will stop us from losing loosing. For extra credit, please diagram that sentence.)

I'm curious about pronunciation. Are there people who see a phrase such as "loose change" and hear in their heads the pronunciation for "lose change"?

I fear we nitpickers are fighting a “loosing” battle here.

Web Site: Loose vs Lose and other Grammatical Pet Peeves

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Reviewed by Albert Isaac 3/4/2010
Very well said, Eric! I enjoyed reading your rant on using losing and loosing appropriately and now that you've loosed luse on the world I am contemplating using lusing on a regular basis.

One of my pet peeves is when people say or write, "I could care less" when they really mean that they could NOT care less.

Others include those who use there or their when they meant to write they're.

That's all I got for the moment (I'm loosing my concentration)

Reviewed by Marge Goodstein (Reader) 5/30/2009
I can't stand when people use loose when they mean lose! The first time I saw that done I started questioning myself; I wondered if that really was an alternate spelling. But a google search confirmed - it is just a misspelling. Grrrr. Here is the versuswiki article on the differences:

Reviewed by Valerie Travers (Reader) 3/29/2009
Wow, I am so happy to see an article about this. The "loose" thing has become a huge pet peeve of mine.
Reviewed by Sheryl Letzgus McGinnis 3/18/2009
Oh can I have an Amen sister!! Finally someone besides me it seems, is driven to distraction by the almost universal confusion between loose and lose. I thought it was just me. I am also completely unnerved by the use of your for you're or it's for its. There are many more that bug me but you get the point.

Thank you for writing about this. I can rest easier now knowing there are others who appreciate good spelling.
Reviewed by - - - - - TRASK 9/26/2008
Read My Stories:Those Nit Picken Females...

Credit Illuminating Write...

Etal: We Are All Lose(ing) Change $...

Reviewed by Linda Law 9/26/2008
I completely agree with you about grammar and spelling...and altho I tend to believe I know almost all of it....when I'm typing fast...and I do type very fast...well, words do tend to get misspelled once in a while; or when I forget to use the proper punctuation....or continue with the same sentence,but not the same subject...such as how I'm doing now.... duh... that's just a part of my personality...that Texas, talk, it's not that I don't know better...just that unless I'm serious about a "paper or piece"....I just write, write and write! Funny's ok when I make that mistake; but I can't be so charitable when others do the same! hehe.... I got you tho...loud and clear... keep up the writing..and this was a good piece... lindalaw
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