Lost vs. Loss: What’s The Difference?

Since lost and loss are easily confused words and you might assume they are the same on accident, although they aren’t quite homophones. They both refer to the action of losing something; however, they come from different parts of speech in the common English language and have slightly different meanings. 

The English word loss is a noun and is used to refer to the action of losing something or someone.

Lost is the past tense of lose or the past participle of lose.

Example sentences:

I took a terrible loss this year in the stock market due to the economic crisis. – Correct

I took a terrible lost this year in the stock market due to the economic crisis. – Incorrect

I lost my car keys somewhere between my car and the door in the garage. – Correct

I loss my car keys somewhere between my car and the door in the garage. – Incorrect

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What Is the Definition of the Words Loss and Lost?

Loss means…

  • detriment, disadvantage, or deprivation from failure to keep, have, or get:
    • to bear the loss of a robbery.
  • something that is lost:
    • The painting was the greatest loss from the robbery.
  • an amount or number lost:
    • The loss of life increased each day.
  • the state of being deprived of or of being without something that one has had:
    • the loss of old friends.
  • death, or the fact of being dead:
    • to mourn the loss of a grandparent.
  • the accidental or inadvertent losing of something dropped, misplaced, stolen, etc.:
    • to discover the loss of a document.
  • a losing by defeat; failure to win:
    • the loss of a bet.
  • failure to make good use of something, as time; waste.
  • failure to preserve or maintain:
    • loss of engine speed at high altitudes.
  • destruction or ruin:
    • the loss of a ship by fire.
  • a thing or a number of related things that are lost or destroyed to some extent:
    • Most buildings in the burned district were a total loss.
  • Military.
    • the losing of soldiers by death, capture, etc.
    • Often losses. the number of soldiers so lost.
  • Insurance. The occurrence of an event, as death or damage of property, for which the insurer makes indemnity under the terms of a policy.
  • Electricity. a measure of the power lost in a system, as by conversion to heat, expressed as a relation between power input and power output, as the ratio of or difference between the two quantities.

Lost

  • no longer possessed or retained:
    • lost friends.
  • no longer to be found:
    • lost articles.
  • having gone astray or missed the way; bewildered as to place, direction, etc.:
    • lost children.
  • not used to good purpose, as opportunities, time, or labor; wasted:
    • a lost advantage.
  • being something that someone has failed to win:
    • a lost prize.
  • ending in or attended with defeat:
    • a lost battle.
  • destroyed or ruined:
    • lost ships.
  • preoccupied; rapt:
    • He seems lost in thought.
  • distracted; distraught; desperate; hopeless:
    • the lost look of a man trapped and afraid.

Examples of the Words in Context

Summary

Next time you need to use loss or lost in a sentence when speaking or writing you can rest assured that you know which is the correct word to use and also know all there is to know about both words and how to use them in English grammar.

Sources:

  1. https://www.voiceofsandiego.org/topics/government/info-about-local-post-office-operations-is-conflicting-and-hard-to-come-by/
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  5. http://www.gutenberg.org/files/35523/35523-h/35523-h.htm
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  8. http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2015/01/02/trying-to-answer-the-great-cuomo-what-ifs.html?source=dictionary
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  11. https://www.sciencenews.org/article/coronavirus-covid-19-united-states-wasted-time-lockdowns-reopening