plural losses
: destruction, ruin
… quitted all to save / A world from utter lossJohn Milton
habitat loss
: the act or fact of being unable to keep or maintain something or someone
blood loss
hair loss
loss of a toe from frostbite
The accident was attributed to the drivers' loss of control.
Success or failure in the playoffs can ride on one momentary loss of composure.Ric Bucher
Activists … pushed for reform that would have forced the state to compensate the property owner for the loss of his livelihood.James Bovard
The tax was blamed for the loss of jobs in the country's food manufacturing sector.Helen Branswell
The team overcame the loss of its best player … to a torn ACL in its 10th game …Jeff Johnson
: the partial or complete deterioration or absence of a physical capability or function
a temporary loss of taste and smell
severe memory loss
loss of appetite
loss of consciousness
… one in about 350 babies is born deaf or hard of hearing in Minnesota each year. I was surprised to learn that this makes hearing loss the most common condition present at birth.Ann Busche
see also loss of life
: the harm or privation resulting from losing or being separated from someone or something
Her sudden death was a great loss to the community.
experienced a deep sense/feeling of loss
: an instance of losing someone or something
mourning the loss of a dear friend to cancer
She lamented the loss of their friendship.
: a person or thing or an amount that is lost: such as
losses plural : killed, wounded, or captured soldiers
The regiment suffered terrible losses.
: the power diminution of a circuit (see circuit entry 1 sense 4a) or circuit element corresponding to conversion of electrical energy into heat by resistance (see resistance entry 1 sense 4a)
: failure to gain, win, obtain, or utilize
loss of income/revenue
loss of a game
the party's losses in the election
Research hasn't revealed any permanent effects on the body resulting from sleep loss, but don't take that as an endorsement for skipping z's.Brad Wetzler
: an amount by which the cost of something exceeds its selling price
profits and losses
The business is operating at a loss.
sold the stock at a loss
: decrease in amount, magnitude, value, or degree
his recent weight loss
a loss in altitude/temperature
Efficiency losses led to lower profits.
Shares of tech stocks pared losses as the Nasdaq rallied sharply off the lows of the day.Rachel Fox
: the amount of an insured's financial detriment by death or damage that the insurer is liable for
Insured losses arising from a string of tornadoes in Missouri earlier this year may reach more than $139 million …Timothy Darragh
football : the distance the ball is moved away from the goal during a play
There was a gain of five yards on first down, but a loss of three yards on second down.
at a loss
: uncertain as to how to proceed
was at a loss to explain the discrepancy
: unable to produce what is needed
at a loss for words
for a loss
: into a state of distress
events had thrown him for a loss

Examples of loss in a Sentence

The storm caused widespread loss of electricity. The company's losses for the year were higher than expected. A careless error resulted in the loss of the game. The team suffered a 3–2 loss in the last game. The team has an equal number of wins and losses. the party's losses in the recent election See More
Recent Examples on the Web For those who knew Tupac, the pain of his loss and what could have been are still palpable. Stephanie Fasano, ABC News, 21 Sep. 2023 Maintaining healthy weight loss is a difficult, but crucial element of overall wellbeing. Rebecca Jaspan, Mph, Rd, Health, 21 Sep. 2023 The topic of shame was prevalent in the discussion among the panel of health professionals - both shame about being overweight and people who have been shamed for using weight loss medicine. Lisa Respers France, CNN, 21 Sep. 2023 The race—which ended in a narrow loss by Democrat Jon Ossoff, a previously unknown 30-year-old—featured a deluge of media coverage and tens of millions in outside spending. Ben Jacobs, The New Republic, 21 Sep. 2023 In 2016, Tana experienced a pregnancy loss at 20 weeks. Ana Calderone, Peoplemag, 20 Sep. 2023 The Big Green opened the season last weekend with a loss to New Hampshire. CBS News, 20 Sep. 2023 May, in his ruling, said the loss of evidence is reprehensible, but was not done in bad faith. Carol Robinson | Crobinson@al.com, al, 12 Sep. 2023 In the meantime, the United States has recovered only a small fraction of its losses. Tony Romm, Washington Post, 12 Sep. 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'loss.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


Middle English los, probably back-formation from lost, past participle of losen to lose

First Known Use

13th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of loss was in the 13th century

Cite this Entry

“Loss.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/loss. Accessed 24 Sep. 2023.

Kids Definition


: the act or an instance of losing
the loss of a ship
: the harm or distress resulting from losing
her death was a loss to the community
: a person, thing, or amount lost
plural : killed, wounded, or captured soldiers
: failure to gain, win, obtain, or use
especially : an amount by which the cost of something is above its selling price
: decrease in amount, size, or degree

Legal Definition


: physical, emotional, or especially economic harm or damage sustained: as
: decrease in value, capital, or amount compare gain
: an amount by which the cost of something (as goods or services) exceeds the selling price compare profit
: something unintentionally destroyed or placed beyond recovery
: the amount of an insured's financial detriment due to the occurrence of a stipulated event (as death, injury, destruction, or damage) in such a manner as to create liability in the insurer under the terms of the policy

Note: As a general rule, economic losses are deductible from adjusted gross income under section 165 of the Internal Revenue Code. There are, however, numerous exceptions and limitations.

actual loss
: the identifiable and calculable monetary detriment that is suffered or will be suffered as a result of an act or event
actual total loss
: a loss in marine insurance in which the property (as a vessel or cargo) cannot be repaired or recovered compare constructive total loss in this entry
capital loss
: the amount by which the book value of a capital asset exceeds the amount realized from the sale or exchange of the asset
casualty loss
: loss of property as a result of a fire, storm, shipwreck, or other catastrophic event
consequential loss
: a loss that arises as an indirect result of an act or event

called also indirect loss

compare direct loss in this entry
constructive total loss
: a loss in marine insurance in which the cost of repairing or recovering a ship or its cargo would be more than the ship or cargo is worth compare actual total loss in this entry
direct loss
: a loss arising directly from an act or event compare consequential loss in this entry
indirect loss
: consequential loss in this entry
net operating loss
: the amount by which the expenses of operating a business exceed the income derived from it see also carryback, carryover
ordinary loss
: a loss from the sale or exchange of any asset that is not a capital asset
partial loss
: a loss arising from damage to property that does not render it a total loss
total loss
: a loss arising from damage to property that is so substantial as to make the property valueless to an insured
: the act or fact of suffering physical, emotional, or especially economic harm or detriment

More from Merriam-Webster on loss

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