Don't Lose Your Mind With Loose Talk

Take note, everyone: the correct expression is 'lose your mind', not 'loose your mind'. However, for once I have a tiny bit of sympathy with those who get it wrong, since 'lose' has such an unusual spelling.

Lost mind picture from Shutterstock

As any moderately competent English speaker knows, 'lose' rhymes with 'booze', while 'loose' rhymes with 'goose'. However, 'lose' is unique in using the letters -ose to represent that pronunciation. These other interpretations of -ose are far more common:

  • rose, chose, hose, nose, pose, close
  • dose, verbose, morose

The real lesson is that -ose can represent different sounds. There's nothing obvious or consistent about it, and while some of those differences might be explained by etymology, that won't help you learn them.

As we've often said before, the English language is full of strange exceptions and variations, and ultimately you have to master them all. Logic is not the prime driver of spelling, so there's no choice but memorising the rules and all the counter-examples. Accuracy matters.

Lifehacker's Mind Your Language column offers bossy advice on improving your writing.


    What's particularly annoying is that the ooo sound in lose is longer than the ooo sound in loose, so you'd expect lose to be spelt with more O's then loose.

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