at loose ends

American English
This page is about the idiom at loose ends.

Meaning: If you're at loose ends, you feel restless and unsettled because you don't have anything to do.

For example:

  • Hank's been at loose ends since he lost his job, so I hope he finds another one soon.

  • We tried limiting the time Jimmy could play computer games, but he gets restless and moody whenever he's at loose ends, so we let him play.

Note: This is similar to the British idiom "at a loose end", though "at loose ends" seems to indicate a state of unhappy restlessness that results from having nothing to do. The British idiom simply means having nothing to do.

Variety: This idiom is typically used in American English but may be used in other varieties of English too.

Quick Quiz:

Louise is at loose ends because she

a. has too much to do

b. doesn't have anything to do

c. doesn't want to do anything

Idiom of the Day

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Contributor: Matt Errey