Take the 2-minute tour ×
English Language & Usage Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for linguists, etymologists, and serious English language enthusiasts. It's 100% free, no registration required.

How can I say the opposite of "keep track"? I was trying to keep track of something but something happened and I lost the track.

I'd like to say "lose track". Is it possible to say it this way or is it just my funny attempt to speak English? :-)

share|improve this question

closed as general reference by RegDwigнt Jun 26 '12 at 9:39

This question is too basic; it can be definitively and permanently answered by a single link to a standard internet reference source designed specifically to find that type of information.If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

add comment

3 Answers 3

up vote 20 down vote accepted

Actually, lose track of is quite a common phrase:

to lose contact with someone; to forget where something is. I lost track of all my friends from high school. Tom has lost track of his glasses again.

share|improve this answer
2  
Perhaps the most common usage is 'lose track of time' meaning to not realize how late it is. –  Jeanne Pindar Sep 30 '11 at 17:21
add comment

Yes, you can say 'lose track'. It doesn't sound funny.

share|improve this answer
add comment

"Lose track" is perfectly acceptable, in the sense of misplacing or losing contact information or forgetting what you meant to be doing, but in the sense of "something happened and [you] lost [a thought]", you might rather say you were distracted by other thoughts, or sidetracked by other activities.

A colloquial phrase for being lost track of is "dropping off the radar". [See my Update 1 comment]

share|improve this answer
    
You "drop off the radar" if you/your activities cease to be noticed by others. If something drops off your radar, you've made a concious decision not to bother with it. These aren't the same as losing track, which is normally something you do accidentally and/or without noticing. –  FumbleFingers Sep 30 '11 at 16:57
    
Note that "dropping off the radar" describes the thing that you lose track of, like "lost in the shuffle". I lost track of time and didn't water the plants or I lost track of what I was doing when you called (you lose track of something); but Watering the plants just got lost in the shuffle (the activity, watering the plants, gets lost) or I was so busy, watering the plants dropped off my radar (the activity drops off the radar). –  aedia λ Sep 30 '11 at 16:58
    
@FumbleFingers I agree that I never hear from him anymore; he dropped off the radar describes not being noticed, and I would equate this to the more familiar "dropped off the grid" or dropped off the map as in, I can't find her contact information anywhere; she's dropped off the grid. While not the same as losing track I think it's useful to point out that they're used similarly when talking about things like a friend you're no longer in touch with. –  aedia λ Sep 30 '11 at 17:05
    
Your dropped off the grid sounds a bit odd to me. So does dropped off the map, to be honest, but at least NGrams agrees that one does actually get used often enough. –  FumbleFingers Sep 30 '11 at 17:12
    
Update 1 revised "for losing track" to "for being lost track of" in last sentence –  jwpat7 Sep 30 '11 at 17:16
show 1 more comment

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.