lose » loose

Classification: English – not an eggcorn

Spotted in the wild:

  • In what is widely considered to be a response to the recent announcement about two 18-year olds who will loose their virginity over the internet, (http://www.ourfirsttime.com) Los Angeles resident Jason Torchinsky plans to loose his keys, and then his cool, live on the internet. (link)
  • What happens if I loose something in the haunt? (link)

**Note by CW:** This entry has been assigned to the “questionable” category pending further discussion: _lose»loose_ looks like a simple misspelling to me.

**Note by CW:** Error in my first note finally fixed. The discussion in the comment section and the clarifications in Arnold Zwicky’s Language Log post agree with my first reaction to this entry. To summarize: Not every misspelling that coincides with a different word than the one the writer aimed at is an eggcorn; we need some evidence that he or she had a different sense, or sense component, in mind. I don’t wish to delete the entry, since this would mean that the commentaries would disappear as well. I have therefore created a new category to mark entries that, after discussion, are found to be not of the eggcorn type.

| link | entered by Mogwai, 2005/03/02 |


  1. 1

    Commentary by depdawg8 , 2005/03/04 at 1:52 pm

    Note by CW: This entry has been assigned to the “questionable” category pending further discussion: loose»lose looks like a simple misspelling to me.

    CW, no it is NOT a mispelling. I frequent two financial chat rooms related to Vectorvest, Inc. In these rooms and in independent newsletters I receive I am amazed at the interchangeability of ‘lose’ and ‘loose’. I’m afraid it has to do with education, not oversight.

  2. 2

    Commentary by Jazzbel , 2005/03/04 at 8:53 pm

    Well, there was a sign for a movie at Galeria Cinemas in Nassau, Bahamas saying:

    Woman, Thou Art Loose.

    It should really have been: Woman: Thou art loosed


  3. 3

    Commentary by Mike Hall , 2005/03/05 at 2:22 am

    I see this one all the time at work and on various web sites. They can’t all be spelling errors.

  4. 4

    Commentary by Patricia , 2005/03/06 at 7:34 pm

    I agree this is not simply a spelling error or typo. “Lose” should not be pronounced in the same way as “Loose” or vice versa, but often is. As an English teacher in the public schools for 25 years, I have marked and remarked, discussed and rediscussed this error in both group settings and one-on-one. My limited successes have been the result of one-on-one, dogged persistence in correcting pronunciation and in insisting on visualizing the difference in the one “o” and the “double o.”

  5. 5

    Commentary by Spindoc , 2005/03/07 at 11:44 am

    Not a misspelling/typo. This, like the distinction between “its” and “it’s,” is one of the more common and genuine grammatical errors in the language, and I see it frequently.

    What I may be seeing, actually, is the evolution of the language. I may not like it, but I may have to accept it.

  6. 6

    Commentary by Dave Richards , 2005/03/08 at 11:13 pm

    Maybe once or twice this could be a spelling error, but this mistake is so rife that I don’t believe it. You see this everwhere. It’s probably as widespread as “your” instead of “you’re”, e.g. “Your joking!”

  7. 7

    Commentary by Evan , 2005/03/09 at 6:42 pm

    This is one of my biggest pet peeves. I see “loose” being used for “lose” more often than not on the internet. Same for the Your/You’re distinction stated above. The internet simply allows for ignorant and uneducated people to voice the majority of opinions. Unfortunately if a majority of people make the same mistake it tends to become more and more integrated and acceptable in society. So to each of those people I say “Your a looser!”.

  8. 8

    Commentary by Looseguy , 2005/03/11 at 6:03 pm

    This is one of my pet peeves as well, especially since Loose is my last name. The misapplication of lose/loose is, I’m afraid, a simple indicator of a lack of education. I remember to this day the spelling test I had in third grade that featured commonly mixed up pairs of words. When Mrs. Smith called out loose, she looked at me and said, “Young man, I don’t expect that you’ll have any trouble with this one!”

  9. 9

    Commentary by Arnold Zwicky , 2005/03/31 at 8:02 pm

    “Loose” as the spelling for /luz/, the present tense and base form of the verb whose past tense is “lost”, certainly originated as a spelling error, and is undoubtedly re-created in error again and again. (See the MWDEU entry for “loose, lose”.) “Lose” is one of only two English words with /uz/ spelled “ose” (the other is the very anomalous “whose”), and “oose” is available as a spelling of /uz/ in the very common verb “choose”, and there’s another common word “loose”, so the spelling “loose” for /luz/ is an entirely natural error; it’s no surprise that people keep coming up with it (just as “it’s” for the possessive of “it” is reinvented all the time). Of course, once it’s common the erroneous spelling is available as a model for others.

    In any case, frequent occurrence in itself doesn’t argue against something’s being a spelling error, at least originally. And I see no reinterpretation here (or in “it’s” as a spelling for the possessive), no evidence that people are somehow understanding the verb as connected to looseness, and certainly no inclination to pronounce the verb /lus/ rather than /luz/.

    For an extended discussion, see my Language Log posting Two types of “errors” (again) and it’s all “grammar” (again).

  10. 10

    Commentary by Randall , 2005/10/06 at 2:13 pm

    I see this error so often that I finally went to Google and typed “it’s lose not loose!” Then I found this site! I swear to God I manage to see this shit once a day! WTF people? Learn how to goddam spell!

  11. 11

    Commentary by M. J. , 2005/12/26 at 1:53 am

    Thank God I am not the only one that is disturbed by this trend. I first saw it around 1991 at a barber shop I went to in college where a sign read something like “You leave the shop, you loose your spot.” It irked me everytime I got a haircut. Now with the Internet it is rampant. People your team did not loose the game. You may not loose your job. You did not have nothing to loose. You did not loose your mind. It is LOSE not LOOSE. If you want to use loose try out this sentence. If you use loose insted of lose, your brain may loose inside your head. Thank you, I feel better.

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.