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a dead loss
1. One who is unsuccessful in a certain area or pursuit. My drawing is a mess—I'm a dead loss as an artist. Don't put him on our team, he's a dead loss at basketball!
2. A complete loss or failure, usually financially. I'm not surprised that venture turned out to be a dead loss—I always thought the owner was a fraud. I thought I could reconcile with my mother, but our phone call was a dead loss.
Destruction or casualties that are considered reasonable because they happen in the context of a war or military attack. Many would argue that even one lost life should not be considered acceptable damage. The general considered the destruction of the tanks to be acceptable damage since his soldiers returned from the mission alive and uninjured.
Destruction or casualties that are considered reasonable because they happen in the context of a war or military attack. The general considered the destruction of the tanks to be acceptable losses since his soldiers returned from the mission alive and uninjured. Many would argue that any lost lives should not be considered acceptable losses
at a loss
1. Totally perplexed. I'm at a loss as to how they lost that game after having a five-goal lead. Can anyone decipher what he means? I'm at a loss.
2. Below cost or without profiting. I think the store is going to close soon—it's been selling items at a loss for a long time. Most restaurants operate at a loss for a long time before they start turning a profit.
at a loss for words
Unable to speak or articulate a coherent thought. I'm so disappointed that I'm actually at a loss for words.
be a dead loss
slang To be unsuccessful in a certain area or pursuit. I thought I could reconcile with my mother, but our phone call was a dead loss. My drawing is a mess—I'm a dead loss as an artist. Don't put him on our team, he's a dead loss at basketball!
be at a loss
To be uncertain of how to proceed or what to do or think. Your behavior is absolutely unacceptable. I'm at a loss as to what to do with you. Now that the whole schedule has been rearranged, I'm at a loss.
cut (one's) losses
To stop an action that has resulted in loss or failure or leave a failing situation before it gets worse. Man, this venture is going nowhere—I think we're better off cutting our losses than agreeing to rent this space for another year.
loss of face
The state or circumstance of having lost the respect of other people, as due to having done something improper or unacceptable. After my terrible loss of face in front of the in-laws, I knew I couldn't return to their home for the foreseeable future.
lost for words
Unable to speak or articulate a coherent thought, typically because one is surprised or in shock. When I got the call that my straight-A-student daughter had been arrested for breaking into the school, I was lost for words. When I found out that my coworkers had taken a collection to help pay for my medical bills, I was lost for words.
one man's loss is another man's gain
proverb When one person loses or discards something, it gives another person the chance to claim it or take advantage of the situation. I heard ADS Advertising lost the FlemCorp account, which means we've got a shot of taking it over for ourselves. One man's loss is another man's gain! I was walking home from my night class when I stumbled across a perfectly good bicycle lying on the street. "One man's loss is another man's gain," I thought to myself, as I picked it up and rode it the rest of the way home.
one person's loss is another person's gain
proverb When one person loses or discards something, it gives another person the chance to claim it or take advantage of the situation. I heard ADS Advertising lost the FlemCorp account, which means we've got a shot of taking it over for ourselves. One person's loss is another person's gain! I was walking home from my night class when I stumbled across a perfectly good bicycle lying on the street. "One person's loss is another person's gain," I thought to myself, as I picked it up and rode it the rest of the way home.
recoup (something) from (someone or something)
To recover, regain, or restore something from someone or something. You'll have to pay for everything out of pocket, but you can recoup it all from HR after you're back from the trip. The meeting was full of angry shareholders looking to recoup their investments from the foundering tech company.
See also: recoup
recover from (someone or something)
1. To return to good health after some illness or injury. Often used in the continuous tense to indicate an ongoing recovery. My brother is still recovering from malaria after coming back from his trip to Kenya. I'm still recovering from a broken ankle, so I'm afraid I won't be coming on the ski trip in December.
2. To return to stable, competitive, or composed position or status after some difficult, troublesome, or threatening situation. Things are better on the whole, but many businesses haven't yet recovered from the economic crisis. The team managed to recover from a disastrous start to the game, and they're now in a position where they could possibly win the whole thing. Georgina always finds it hard to recover from her in-laws' visits.
3. To get something back that had been taken or possessed by someone or something. In this usage, a noun or pronoun is used between "recover" and "from." I haven't been able to recover my money from the company I invested in yet. They recovered the ball from the other team within range of a field goal.
See also: recover
recuperate from (someone or something)
1. To return to good health after some illness or injury. Often used in the continuous tense to indicate an ongoing recovery. My brother is still recuperating from malaria after coming back from his trip to Kenya. I'm still recuperating from a broken ankle, so I'm afraid I won't be coming on the ski trip in December.
2. To return to stable or composed position, status, or mindset after some difficult, troublesome, or threatening situation. Things are better on the whole, but many businesses haven't yet recuperated from the economic crisis. It will take me a day or two to recuperate from that visit from my in-laws.
See also: recuperate
throw (one) for a loss
To confuse, confound, or bewilder one. The end of that trick always throws the audience for a loss. I love watching their faces as they desperately try to figure it out. It really threw us for a loss when Olivia announced that she was leaving the company. I was really thrown for a loss when I saw how little progress the team had made so far.
write off (one's) losses
1. To record one's financial losses during the accounting process. We've had such a rough third quarter that being able to write off our losses for a tax break is the only upside.
2. By extension, to move on from a situation that has gone badly. I started out as an engineering major, but after failing all of my classes, I decided to write off my losses and switch to communications.
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2015 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.
acceptable damageand acceptable losses
Euph. casualties or destruction inflicted by an enemy that is considered minor or tolerable. At present, the enemy's first-strike capability would produce acceptable damage. The general indicated that the fifty thousand casualties were within the range of acceptable losses.
at a loss (for words)
Fig. unable to speak; speechless or befuddled. I was so surprised that I was at a loss for words. Tom was terribly confused—really at a loss.
cut one's losses
to do something to stop a loss of something. I knew I had to do something to cut my losses, but it was almost too late. Sell some of the high-priced stuff to cut your losses.
a total loss. My investment was a dead loss. This car is a dead loss after the accident.
One man's loss is another man's gain.
Prov. When one person loses something, another person gets it. (You can substitute appropriate names or pronouns for the phrases one man's and another man's, as in the second example.) Mike found a five-dollar bill on the sidewalk. "One man's loss is another man's gain," he thought to himself, as he took the money. Jane: Andy just got fired. Jill: I know. And Andy's loss is my gain; I'm getting promoted to his job!
throw someone for a loss
to cause someone to be uncertain or confused. (Often passive.) The stress of being in front of so many people threw Ann for a loss. She forgot her speech. It was a difficult problem. I was thrown for a loss for an answer.
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of American Idioms and Phrasal Verbs. © 2002 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.
at a loss
1. Below cost, as in The store was doing so badly that it was selling merchandise at a loss.
2. Puzzled, perplexed, in a state of uncertainty, as in When his letters were returned unopened, John was at a loss as to what to do next. This usage was originally applied to hounds who had lost the scent or track of their prey. [Mid-1600s]
3. at a loss for words. Unable or uncertain as to what to say. For example, Father's tirade left us all at a loss for words. [Late 1600s]
cut one's losses
Withdraw from a losing situation, as in They decided to close down the unprofitable branch and cut their losses. This expression uses cut in the sense of "reduce" (also see cut down, def. 2).
1. A total loss, as in They've changed the currency, so these old coins are a dead loss. [Early 1700s]
2. A worthless person or thing; also, an utter waste of time. For example, With an injured knee he's a dead loss to the team, or It rained every day, so our week at the beach was a dead loss. [1920s]
The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer. Copyright © 2003, 1997 by The Christine Ammer 1992 Trust. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
at a loss
COMMON If you are at a loss, you do not know what to do or say in a particular situation. These women are at a loss to know where to go for help. With over 190 different recipes for more than 100 varieties of pasta, Rosa is never at a loss for something to cook.
a dead loss
If you describe someone or something as a dead loss, you think that they are completely useless. For them the nearly-new car is a dead loss because it loses value more quickly. I have always been a dead loss at competitive sports and games.
cut your losses
COMMON If you cut your losses, you decide to stop spending time, energy, or money on an activity or situation on which you have already spent a lot without having any success. Competition in the market was so strong, we decided to cut our losses and close the business. Only you can decide if you should push on to the end of your degree or cut your losses and get out.
lost for wordsor
at a loss for words
COMMON If you are lost for words or at a loss for words, you are so amazed, shocked, or sad that you do not know what to say or how to express your feelings in words. She looked shocked and was, for a moment, lost for words. They were all waiting for me to say something. But for the first time in my life I felt at a loss for words. Note: You can also say that you are stuck for words. I was astonished to have been given the award — I was stuck for words.
Collins COBUILD Idioms Dictionary, 3rd ed. © HarperCollins Publishers 2012
cut your lossesabandon an enterprise or course of action that is clearly going to be unprofitable or unsuccessful before you suffer too much loss or harm.
The sense of cut here is probably ‘sever yourself from’ rather than ‘reduce in size’.
1991 Jane Smiley A Thousand Acres Ginny is eternally hopeful, you know. She never cuts her losses. She always thinks things could change.
Farlex Partner Idioms Dictionary © Farlex 2017
a dead ˈlossa person or thing that is useless or a complete failure: This television is a dead loss; the picture fades completely after five minutes.
at a ˈloss(informal) uncertain about what to do or how to do something: We’re at a loss to know what to do with all this food from the party yesterday. ♢ I was completely at a loss. I couldn’t understand the instructions.
at a ˌloss for ˈwordsunable to say anything: He’s never at a loss for words, in fact it’s difficult sometimes to stop him talking. ♢ I was completely at a loss for words. I had never been spoken to like that in my whole life.
cut your ˈlossesstop doing something that is not successful before the situation becomes even worse: When our rent went up we decided to cut our losses and close the store.
Farlex Partner Idioms Dictionary © Farlex 2017
cut one’s losses
tv. to do something to stop a loss of something. I knew I had to do something to cut my losses, but it was almost too late.
McGraw-Hill's Dictionary of American Slang and Colloquial Expressions Copyright © 2006 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. All rights reserved.
cut (one's) losses
To withdraw from a losing situation.
at a loss
1. Below cost: sold the merchandise at a loss.
2. Perplexed; puzzled: I am at a loss to understand those remarks.
American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition. Copyright © 2016 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
at a loss, to be
To be puzzled or unable to come to a decision. The English clergyman Charles Colton (ca. 1780–1832) wrote, “As completely at a loss as a Dutchman without his pipe, a Frenchman without his mistress, an Italian without his fiddle, or an Englishman without his umbrella” (Lacon, Part 2, no. 116). One may also be at a loss for something, most often at a loss for words, meaning that one is rendered speechless.
The Dictionary of Clichés by Christine Ammer Copyright © 2013 by Christine Ammer