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Loss vs. Lost (Meaning and Sentence Examples)

The use of ‘loss’ and ‘lost’ in the English grammar can be confusing to implement. Many speakers get confused about which form of the word to use in writing. These words derive from the Germanic word ‘los’, which translates to ‘destruction.’ Or to lose something.

Learn the difference between loss and lost in this guide…

Definition of “loss”

Loss is defined as “the process or fact of losing something or someone

Loss vs lost example
Loss vs lost example

Definition of “lost”

In the English language, ‘lost’ is a verb or sometimes used as an adjective to describe a noun. Lost is the past participle and past tense of ‘lose’

Lost is defined as “deprived of or cease to have something

Loss vs lost example
Loss vs lost example

When to use “loss”

Here is when to use “loss.”

When used as a noun, translates to “process of deprivation of something”

  • Loss of weight can reduce the risk of heart attacks.
  • Job losses during a recession affect the young generation mentally.
  • We must get on with the work to avoid loss of time.

When used to “describe the passing of someone

  • The family was mourning the loss of their patriarch.
  • The Great War lead to many superpowers of the world suffering losses in manpower, but still, the war continued.

When used to “describe depreciation of financial strength of a company or organization

  • The stocks of the cement company plummeted, leading to heavy losses.
  • John’s business has been operating at a loss for two years.

When used as a phrase to “describe the state of confusion

  • The sudden resignation of Mary from the company put most of her colleagues at a loss for words.
  • When the family saw his dead body, they were at a loss.

When to use “lost”

‘Lost’ can be used in two forms of grammatical objects. Either as a past tense/past participle of ‘lose’ or it can be used as an adjective.

When used as a past tense/past participle of ‘lose‘, translating to “process of deprivation of something

  • He lost his appetite after eating the sweets in succession.
  • Lots of people over the globe lost their jobs during the Recession of 2008.

When used to “describe the inability of someone to find their way

  • He got lost in the giant maze of the park.
  • Help! We got lost in the woods.

When used to “describe a misplaced item that cannot be found

  • Do you have your keys for the laboratory access? I lost mine yesterday.

When used to “describe the instance of losing

  • The overconfident batsman was the reason that the cricket team lost the rematch.

‘Lost’ can function as an adjective when used as:

  • A lost cause.
  • A lost game.
  • A lost opportunity.

Lost can also be used as a part of a phrase in a sentence:

“Get lost”: indicates anger or impatience or a request to go away.

  • Get lost! Don’t ever come back to my place!”

“Lost on”: means failure to be recognized or appreciated.

  • “The true meaning of the story of the movie got lost on the lead character’s passin.”

How to remember which to use

These are the points in consideration when deciding between the use of loss/lost. 

  • As a noun, loss is the act of losing.
  • As a verb, lost is used as the past participle of to lose.
  • Lost can at times also be used as an adjective.

Depending on the use and the appropriate context, either loss or lost can get used interchangeably to describe the state of a noun or a verb.

When lost functions as a verb, it is like “money lost,” “lost dog,” “lost child,” or “lost cause.”

When it is the past participle, it is “lost weight,” “lost wallet,” and “lost results.”


  • Loss refers to the act of losing something.
  • Lost is the past tense of lose.


  1. Loss vs. Lost – How to Use Each Correctly
  2. Grammar Corner: Loss vs Lost
  3. Loss or Lost – Use the Correct Word Every Time
  4. Difference Between Loss and Lost

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About the author

Dalia Y.: Dalia is an English Major and linguistics expert with an additional degree in Psychology. Dalia has featured articles on Forbes, Inc, Fast Company, Grammarly, and many more. She covers English, ESL, and all things grammar on GrammarBrain.

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