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Is the expression "(someone is a) bad loser" valid?
If it is valid, is it equal to "sore loser", or does it have a different meaning and/or use?

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3 Answers 3

up vote 7 down vote accepted

"Bad loser" does indeed mean the same as "sore loser", but I'd suggest that the former is more common in the UK, whereas the latter is more common in the US.

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Yes, 'sore loser' isn't idiomatic in the UK. –  Benjol Nov 16 '10 at 8:51
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To my ear (UK-raised, but lived a while in US) there is a slight shade of difference between the two: “bad loser” describes a character trait, whereas “sore loser” more often describes the way someone is currently behaving. (Like a subtler version of the difference between being bad-tempered and being angry.) So I’d be more likely to say “I don’t think much of Judy, she’s such a bad loser”, but “Crikey, Judy’s being such a sore loser about those Christmas presents!”, or “Stop being such a sore loser!”. –  PLL Jan 17 '11 at 22:37

"Sore loser" is a more common idiom to describe someone who acts badly when they don't win. But "bad loser" can also be used to describe this, and is transparent in meaning. I have heard "bad loser" from time to time, but "sore loser" is much more common, simply because it is an idiom that has been around a long time.

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Agree with Kosmonaut, plus we have the expression 'poor sport' to denote the same. –  user65624 Feb 12 at 13:44

"Poor" loser is frequently heard, and to my mind more precise than "sore". Being "sore" is a symptom of being poor at, bad at, ungraceful at, losing. It describes the resulting condition rather than the ability. "Bad" is certainly common.

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