I've got some examples with the phrase "let loose":

In this competition, dogs are let loose to chase a jack rabbit over desert terrain.

Ellen was laughing like a child let loose in a sweet shop

These two examples are from Oxford Dictionary.

I was uptight, wanna let loose

I was dreaming of bigger things in

Wanna leave my own life behind.

This one is from Imagine Dragons' song "Thunder".

So, the question is next: why can we not to use "be" in the last two examples? I thought, "let loose" is like an adjective.

  • 'Let loose' has an intransitive sense (meaning break free / break out) as well as a transitive use (he let me loose) which can be passivised (I was let loose by him). – Edwin Ashworth Sep 12 '17 at 19:02

The third example uses a rather unusual sense of 'let loose':

M-W has an example of the intransitive use of 'let loose' (a multi-word verb):

let loose [verb] (2): to produce (something, such as a cry) in a sudden and forceful way

The crowd let loose an enormous groan when the pass was intercepted.

She let loose (with) a scream.

'She let loose with a scream' is the intransitive example. M-W does not add a caveat.

Wiktionary is clearer:

let loose (1) (transitive, idiomatic) To free; to release from restraint.

(this is the usual sense)

... the unholy ambitions which let loose this horror ...


(2) (intransitive, idiomatic, sometimes followed by with or on) To shout, make a loud sound, or perform a sudden, vehement action; to behave in a raucous, frenzied manner.

He set his teeth, and let loose with a fury before which nothing could stand; and Maurice was forced back step by step until he was almost up with the wall.


'Dogs are let loose' is just the passive transformation of 'They let the dogs loose', Wiktionary sense (1)


'Ellen was laughing like a child let loose in a sweet shop' uses a reduced relative clause (from 'Ellen was laughing like a child that had been let loose in a sweet shop').

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