Word Confusion: Loses versus Losses

Posted August 15, 2013 by Kathy Davie in Author Resources, Editing, Self-Editing, Word Confusions, Writing

Yes, this is different from “Loose versus Lose” — this one’s gots more Ses for one. Yeah, I know, an eye-rolling moment, LOL.

Seriously, it astounds me how often I find this confusion. Although, I can understand it when newscasters talk about the number of losses a team has had—note the word losses, a noun — that it can become so familiar to your brain that loss seems to be exactly the same as a lose. Unfortunately, it’s not. Nyah, nyah…

Seriously, loses is strictly a verb. C’mon, you guys, you’re writers…I know y’all know the difference between nouns and verbs…

Word Confusions…

…started as my way of dealing with a professional frustration with properly spelled words that were out of context in manuscripts I was editing as well as books I was reviewing. It evolved into a sharing of information with y’all. I’m hoping you’ll share with us words that have been a bête noir for you from either end.

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Lose(s) Loss(es)
Credit to: Apple Dictionary.com

“Upper Ivory Denture with Human Teeth”, England, 1801-1860, is courtesy of Wellcome Images under the CC BY 4.0 license, via Wikimedia Commons

Ouch, it’s hard enough to lose one’s teeth, but in the 19th century?

“Sympathy Card” courtesy of My Nice Profile

Conveying sympathy for one’s loss.

Part of Grammar:
Verb, intransitive & transitive

Third person present verb: loses
Past tense or past participle: lost
Gerund or present participle: losing

Noun, Singular: Loss
Plural for noun: Losses
Verb, intransitive:
Fail to win a game or contest

Earn less money than one is spending or has spent

Verb, transitive:
Be deprived of or cease to have or retain something

  • Cause someone to fail to gain or retain something
  • Be deprived of a close relative or friend through their death or as a result of the breaking off of a relationship
  • [Of a pregnant woman] Miscarry a baby or suffer the death of a baby during childbirth
  • [Be lost] Be destroyed or killed, especially through accident or as a result of military action
  • Decrease in body weight
    • Undergo a reduction of a specified amount of weight
  • Waste or fail to take advantage of time or an opportunity
  • [Of a watch or clock] Become slow by a specified amount of time
  • [Lose it; informal] Lose control of one’s temper or emotions

Become unable to find something or someone

  • Cease or become unable to follow the right route
  • Evade or shake off a pursuer
  • [North American; informal] Get rid of an undesirable person or thing
  • [Informal] Cause someone to be unable to follow an argument or explanation
  • [Lose oneself in/be lost in] Be or become deeply absorbed in something

Fail to win a game or contest

  • Cause someone to fail to win a game or contest

Earn less money than one is spending or has spent

Fact or process of losing something or someone

  • An amount of money lost by a business or organization
  • The state or feeling of grief when deprived of someone or something of value
  • [In singular] A person or thing that is badly missed when lost

[Physics] Reduction of power within or among circuits

Verb, intransitive:
They lost by one vote.

Pete didn’t want to be on the losing side.

He lost heavily on box-office flops.

Verb, transitive:
I’ve lost my appetite.

Linda was very upset about losing her job.

The company may find itself losing customers to cheaper rivals.

You lost me my appointment at the university.

She lost her husband in the fire.

She could lose the baby.

A fishing disaster in which 19 local men were lost took place over five years ago.

She couldn’t eat and began to lose weight.

They lost every chance to score in the first inning.

He’ll lose no time in attacking his opponent’s tax proposals.

I swear this clock loses 10 minutes every day.

In the end I completely lost it — I was screaming at them.

Jamie always loses the car keys.

The clouds came down, and we lost the path.

He came after me waving his revolver, but I easily lost him.

Lose that creep!

Sorry, Tim, you’ve lost me there.

He had been lost in thought.

The Bears lost the final game of the series

That shot lost him the championship.

The paper is losing $500,000 a month.

This project of yours is losing money hand over fist.

I’m sorry for your loss.

There’s a loss of power to the transporter.

There have been a number of job losses in our current economy.

We’re trying to avoid loss of time.

Funding cuts will lead to job losses.

Insurance can protect you against financial loss.

We have incurred huge losses.

“Loss-making PSU banks including SBI may find the going more tough” (The Economic Times).

I feel a terrible sense of loss.

He will be a great loss to many people.

Adjective: lose-lose
Noun: loser
Verb, transitive: relose, relost, relosing
Noun: preloss
Phrasal Verb
lose out
History of the Word:
Old English, the before 12th century, from losian, meaning perish, destroy
Become unable to find

Similar to the Old English lēosan, for to lose.

Middle English, probably from the 13th century.

Old English los meaning destruction, is of Germanic origin and related to the Old Norse los meaning breaking up of the ranks of an army and loose, the latter is probably a back-formation from lost, a past past participle of lose.

C’mon, get it out of your system, bitch, whine, moan…which words are your pet peeves? Also, please note that I try to be as accurate as I can, but mistakes happen or I miss something. Email me if you find errors, so I can fix them…and we’ll all benefit!

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Pinterest Photo Credits:

“Beaumont-Hamel Terre Neuvien Tombes” was photographed by Alertomalibu under the GFDL, CC-BY-SA-3.0, or CC BY-SA 2.5-2.0-1.0 licenses, via Wikimedia Commons.