What does the phrase "loose character" in Indian English mean?

E.g. "He is a loose character", or, "He has a loose character"

  • In American English "is a loose character" and "has a loose character" would have significantly different connotations. – Hot Licks Mar 1 '20 at 3:12
  • @HotLicks interesting! Please, go on! – Amin Shah Gilani Mar 1 '20 at 4:17
  • It has nothing to do with Indian English or American English. In English generally "a loose character" is an idiom implying an unreliable, or untrustworthy person. – WS2 Mar 7 '20 at 7:52
  • @HotLicks If you look at my comment below the first answer you will see that "a loose character" is one of those words that can give rise to serious trans-Atlantic confusion. It is like "nervy", which means having nerves of steel, to an American, but of a nervous disposition, in Britain. To you a "loose character" may be easy-going and relaxed, but call someone that in Britain and you could be in trouble. – WS2 Mar 7 '20 at 8:14
  • @WS2 - I never said "easy going". As I said, there is not a single definition. – Hot Licks Mar 7 '20 at 13:19

character (noun)

the mental and moral qualities distinctive to an individual.

"running away was not in keeping with her character"


"Loose" is a literal translation of the Urdu/Hindi word dheela. It implies imperfect or bad. E.g. kaam dheela kiya hai i.e. "The work has been loosely done" implies that the task was ill-performed. Hindi/Urdu aren't very literal languages. (Personally, it drives me a little insane at times.)

"Loose character" means someone with bad moral qualities. It is most commonly used when talking about someone with a (perceived) history of extra-marital romantic relationships. Romantic relationships are not generally approved of by society in the sub-continent.

  • Google is not a valid reference. – tchrist Mar 1 '20 at 3:05
  • @tchrist Says who? Google runs a dictionary service, which in this case can be accessed by running a search for "define character". Nothing in the referencing page disallows citing it. – Amin Shah Gilani Mar 1 '20 at 4:22
  • 2
    It is not reproducible nor guaranteed. It us not a published source with an attributable publication date for archival purposes. You need a real dictionary. Can you imagine submitting a bibliographical reference entry in a professional journal that amounted to little more than "because Google said so"? Nobody would take you seriously. That's the point. And this has nothing to so with Indians. – tchrist Mar 1 '20 at 5:42
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    If you look at the very bottom of the block in Google you will see “From Oxford”. That is the source of the information and what you should be citing. It’s not that you can’t use the information; you’re just not citing it properly. – Laurel Mar 1 '20 at 5:50
  • @tchrist, that explanation makes sense, I'll update the citation, thank you. When did I ever say anything has anything to do with Indians? What do they have to do with anything? – Amin Shah Gilani Mar 2 '20 at 10:42

Quora reference of loose character https://www.quora.com/What-do-you-mean-by-loose-character; which reads like ?

//To loose your character takes lowering your moral standards below a personal mental stopping point in turn changing the way you see yourself and in the process effecting the way people see you. in turn lowering the bar again changing the way you see your self repeat over and over until circumstances change or mental health becomes a issue.//

  • I have down voted as your answer as it is all but incomprehensible and does not reflect the meaning. "Loose" is an adjective and not a verb. – Greybeard Mar 7 '20 at 9:24

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