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.

Which is the preferred usage — "to stop a loophole" or "to fix a loophole"?

share|improve this question
    
"It is time to fix a loophole in Alabama law that allows people with severe mental illness to purchase firearms." timesdaily.com/stories/Firearms-loophole,201132 –  Kris Jan 14 '13 at 11:11

2 Answers 2

up vote 5 down vote accepted

Neither. The verb you are looking for is close.

Just to demonstrate that that's what people actually use, here are the stats from the Corpus of Contemporary American English (COCA) and the British National Corpus (BNC):

                      COCA    BNC

[close] a loophole     23      3
[plug] a loophole       4      1
[stop] a loophole       0      0
[fix] a loophole        0      0

And for the sake of completeness, here's a list of the top 25 collocations from both corpora for [v*] a loophole:

             COCA                          BNC

 1    FOUND A LOOPHOLE     23     BE A LOOPHOLE         3
 2    IS A LOOPHOLE        16     IS A LOOPHOLE         3
 3    CLOSE A LOOPHOLE     15     FIND A LOOPHOLE       3
 4    'S A LOOPHOLE        11     EXPLOITING A LOOPHOLE 2 
 5    WAS A LOOPHOLE        9     HAVE A LOOPHOLE       2
 6    FIND A LOOPHOLE       9     CLOSE A LOOPHOLE      2
 7    CLOSING A LOOPHOLE    5     SAYS A LOOPHOLE       2
 8    CREATED A LOOPHOLE    4     USING A LOOPHOLE      1
 9    EXPLOITED A LOOPHOLE  4     SAY A LOOPHOLE        1
10    PLUG A LOOPHOLE       4     PLUG A LOOPHOLE       1
11    USED A LOOPHOLE       3     LEAVES A LOOPHOLE     1
12    LEFT A LOOPHOLE       3     CLAIMS A LOOPHOLE     1
13    EXPLOITING A LOOPHOLE 3     BECOMING A LOOPHOLE   1
14    FINDING A LOOPHOLE    3     CREATE A LOOPHOLE     1
15    CLOSES A LOOPHOLE     3     CLOSING A LOOPHOLE    1
16    DISCOVERED A LOOPHOLE 3   
17    CREATING A LOOPHOLE   2   
18    CONTAIN A LOOPHOLE    2   
19    ADDRESS A LOOPHOLE    2   
20    CREATE A LOOPHOLE     2   
21    HAVE A LOOPHOLE       2   
22    HAS A LOOPHOLE        2   
23    OPEN A LOOPHOLE       2   
24    USE A LOOPHOLE        2   
25    SUPPORTED A LOOPHOLE  2   
26    USING A LOOPHOLE      2   
27    LEAVE A LOOPHOLE      2   

As you can see, out of all the various things that various people like to do to various loopholes in various situations, only close and plug fit the bill in yours.

share|improve this answer
    
Plug is more vivid, but I since the metaphorical sense is so oft-used as to stand as as a sense on its own, I think I would only use it in the sense of a physical loophole. –  Jon Hanna Jan 14 '13 at 10:27

Reverso suggests "close a loophole":

→ The government plans to close some 70 tax loopholes used by companies.
to close a loophole combler une lacune
→ It's time we closed the loophole which allows criminals to gain easy access to lethal weapons

However, plug, fix and stop are also found, in that order.

Google results:

  • "close a loophole" — about 1,080,000
  • "plug a loophole" — about 230,000
  • "fix a loophole" — about 153,000
  • "stop a loophole" — about 9,540

Being an idiomatic expression, the choice of the word depends much on the context as well.

share|improve this answer

Your Answer

 
discard

By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

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