Loss or Lost – Use the Correct Word Every Time

loss or lost

The Quick Answer – What’s the Difference Between Loss and Lost?

The short answer to this question is,

  • Loss is a noun.
  • Lost is an verb and sometimes an adjective.

Each word has its own unique sense that can never be interchanged with the other.

Continue reading for a more thorough explanation of loss vs. lost.

What Does Loss Mean?

When to use loss: Loss is used as a noun in the English sentence. A loss is the fact or process of losing something or someone.

  • We need to get moving to avoid any loss of time.

In business or financial contexts, a loss might be an amount of money lost by a business or organization.

  • We have been operating at a loss for two years straight.

What Does Lost Mean?

When to use lost: In most cases, lost is used as a verb. If someone lost something, he or she misplaced the item and can no longer find it.

  • Do you have your keys for the house? I lost mind the other day.

Lost can also function as an adjective to described something that has been misplaced.

For example,

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

Examples of Lost vs. Loss

  • Toyota Motor, the Japanese auto giant, said Monday that it expected its first operating loss in 70 years, underscoring how the economic crisis was spreading across the global auto industry. –The New York Times
  • BP slumped to its biggest annual loss last year and announced thousands more job cuts on Tuesday, showing that even one of the nimblest oil producers is struggling in the worst market downturn in over a decade. –Reuters
  • Eighty years later, Fawcett’s search for a lost ancient city which he dubbed “Z” inspired the journalist David Grann to follow in his footsteps. –Time
  • Today, Apple is playing catch-up in a product category it invented, increasing worries about whether the technology giant has lost some of its innovation edge. –The Wall Street Journal

Lost or Loss? Phrases That Use Each

Each one of these words is used in common English phrases that you might encounter in everyday conversation.

Let’s go over the most common of them, so you can be sure in your spelling each and every time you use them. 

To be at a loss: If you are at a loss, you are puzzled or uncertain about something.

  • After I told her I was leaving, she was at a loss for words.

Sorry for your loss: This is a common phrase that is used to console someone after the death of a loved one.

  • I’m sorry for your loss, Sharon.

Lost your mind: This is an informal way to say that someone has gone insane. It is usually used hyperbolically rather than literally.

  • Have you lost your mind? You are allergic to dairy!

Lost your way: If you lose your way, you become lost. This can be used literally or figuratively.

  • After spending hours hiking up the mountain, we lost our way. (Literal)
  • I climbed the corporate ladder for years only to lose my way in my career. (Figurative)


Do I mean loss or lost? While these words are related, they are difference parts of speech that can never be interchanged with each other.

  • As a noun, loss refers to the act of losing.
  • As a verb, lost functions as a the past participle of to lose.
  • Lost can also function as an adjective.

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