at loose ends

This page is about the idiom at loose ends

American English


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.

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.


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

Contributor: Matt Errey