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'Loose' or 'Lose'?

If you're trying to remember how to spell loose and lose, think of the phrase loose as a goose, and remember that both loose and goose have two O's.

By
Mignon Fogarty
2-minute read

People often ask me to help them remember the difference between the words loose and lose, and I confess that I see the wrong spellings so often that I sometimes have to remind myself which is which. I mean, I know, that loose with two O’s means “not tight” and lose with one O means the opposite of “win,” but when you see them mixed up so often, you start to wonder what people really mean.

‘Loose’ or ‘Lose’? A Memory Trick

Here’s my memory trick if you have trouble spelling loose and lose

Think of the phrase “loose as a goose.” It means relaxed or cool, but how it helps you is that everyone seems to be able to remember that goose has two O’s, and voilà—loose, which you’re using in the saying “loose as a goose” also has two O’s! You can also think of the goose's two big round eyes and imagine that they are two big O's.

Then you can just remember that lose is the other one. You want it to lose that extra O so it becomes the right spelling.

Remember that trick and you’ll be relaxed and cool. Loose as a goose. And you’ll get those spellings right.

Loose as a Goose

Also, if you’ve been listening to this podcast for long, you won’t be surprised to hear that I became curious about the origin of the phrase loose as a goose and started doing some research. I mean, that’s weird, right? Why would a goose be loose? That answer is next.

The origin of loose as a goose: open the transcript of the next podcast segment in a new window.

Use the phrase "loose as a goose" to remember that "goose" is spelled with two O's..

Image courtesy of Shutterstock.

About the Author

Mignon Fogarty

Mignon Fogarty is the founder of Quick and Dirty Tips and the author of seven books on language, including the New York Times bestseller "Grammar Girl's Quick and Dirty Tips for Better Writing." She is an inductee in the Podcasting Hall of Fame, and the show is a five-time winner of Best Education Podcast in the Podcast Awards. She has appeared as a guest expert on the Oprah Winfrey Show and the Today Show.

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