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Published on: Grammar Bites

The many Spanish translations of ‘loose’

The English word ‘loose’ has a wide variety of Spanish equivalents, depending on context and meaning. Let’s take a look at some of the most popular ones!

1. When talking about clothing, we translate ‘loose’ as ‘suelto/a’:

  • La camisa es muy grande; me queda suelta. The shirt is too big; the fit is loose.

2. When talking about something that’s not fixed in place or not fastenned properly, we translate ‘loose’ as ‘flojo’ or ‘suelto’:

  • Juan tiene un diente flojo; tendrá una visita del ratón Perez pronto. Juan has a loose tooth; he’ll be getting a visit from the Tooth Fairy soon.
  • Cuidado, tienes los cordones sueltos. Look out, your shoelaces are loose.

3. When we use ‘loose’ figuratively to mean ‘vague’, ‘imprecise’, ‘not literal or accurate’, we translate it as ‘libre’, ‘vago’, ‘impreciso’:

  • Esta película es una adaptación libre de una novela clásica. This film is a loose adaptation of a classic novel.
  • Él tiene algunas ideas vagas sobre lo que quiere decir, pero aún no escribió el discurso. He has some loose ideas about what he wants to say, but he hasn’t written his speech yet.

We can also find the term in lots of idiomatic and everyday expressions:

  • At loose ends: Sin (tener) nada que hacer.
  • To break loose: independizarse, liberarse.
  • To cut loose: soltarse, desinhibirse, desatarse.
  • To have a screw loose: tener un tornillo flojo, suelto, faltarle a alguien un tornillo en la cabeza.
  • To loosen up: relajarse, aflojarse.
  • To be a loose cannon: ser impredecible.
  • (To have) Loose change: (tener) cambio.
  • Loose ends: cabos sueltos.
  • To be on the loose: estar suelto, estar libre.
  • To shake loose: librarse, sacarse de encima.