Loser vs. Looser

Posted by on Sep 14, 2013 in Business Writing | 1 comment

So I was watching baseball highlights last week and I happened to see a guy at Fenway Park in Boston holding up a sign he’d obviously made after miraculously stumbling upon some poster board next to a dumpster on his way to the game. The intent of the sign was obviously to tweak Alex Rodriguez of the New York Yankees about all the illegal substances he’s painted his insides with since 2002. In spectacularly patriotic red, white, and blue, the sign read:

A-ROD = A LOOSER

Before we get into the million ways that this sign was incorrect, I have to point out that for no reason, both O’s in “looser” were drawn as eyes. Maybe the Boston fan thought A-Rod might be intimidated by a semi-anthropomorphized misspelled word staring at him? Or maybe he was a better speller than we thought and just ran out of room on the sign. Perhaps he really meant to write:

A-ROD = A LOOSER
MODEL OF THE BATTING GLOVES YOU’RE WEARING ARE AVAILABLE AT THE SPORTING GOODS STORE I WORK AT IN SOMERVILLE. THE SIGN IS EASY TO SEE FROM THE INTERSTATE, HENCE THE EYES I DREW. JUST COME ON IN AND ASK FOR CARL.

We’ll never know. What we do know, however, is that barring a similarly ridiculous explanation:

SIGN GUY = A LOSER

Before Facebook, it never occurred to me just how many relatively intelligent people have no idea how to make this simple distinction. At least once a week, one of my friends (most likely one with an advanced college degree) will post something like…

OMG, I just farted in the department meeting. I feel like such a looser!

Well, random friend, now you have two reasons. Because what you’ve actually typed is….

OMG, I just farted in the department meeting. I feel like such a thing that isn’t quite as tight as some other object it’s being compared to!

I think the main reason for this consistent mistake stems from the Calvinball rules of English. (If you’re unfamiliar with this reference, go purchase a Calvin & Hobbes retrospective IMMEDIATELY) For absolutely no reason, the word “lose” rhymes with “choose” and “snooze.” (It also rhymes with shoes and dues and rather appropriately “confuse.”) So in the end, it makes perfect sense why so many people make this mistake. Unfortunately, it doesn’t make the mistake any less incorrect. It’s also a mistake that’s very easy to spot and will make anything you’re doing look infinitely less professional. (And remember Spellcheck is ineffective here since looser is an actual word)

The same principle applies for the base word “lose” as well. Just imagine picking up a brochure at a conference and seeing….

At Plumpkin Diagnostics, we never loose focus. Our dedicated team of researchers…were immediately dropped in the nearest trashcan wasting hundreds of dollars in printing costs and countless man hours because of a simple, easily overlooked mistake.

My tip on making sure you’re using lose, loose, loser, and looser correctly? Remember the Boston fan’s sign with the random eyes? It should’ve been a Cyclops.

LOSER = CYCLOPS

Or if it’s easier for you, just picture the Boston fan’s sign as saying:

A-ROD IS A CYCLOPS

There you go. It’s that easy. Picture Alex Rodriguez with one giant eye in the middle of his forehead. Easy trick. And if you’re unfamiliar with Alex Rodriguez, just picture the biggest loser you know with a single dumb-looking eye right smack dab in the middle of their face. You’ll never screw up “loser” and “looser” again.

Now go forth good people and make more effective ballpark signs.

One Comment

  1. This is a terrific beginning for two of my favorite people. Good luck with your endeavor.

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