by Kate Woodford
Recently on this blog we looked at the idioms and collocations that we use to describe winning. Sadly, for every winner, there is a loser so this week, we’re looking at a set of less happy phrases – those that we use to describe losing.
Starting with the verb ‘lose’ itself, note that one person or side loses to another person or side: They lost to Liverpool on Saturday.
Moving on to the much used word ‘defeat’, a person or team that loses may be said to suffer defeat: England suffered defeat in their World Cup opener. If they lose by many goals or points, the result may be described as a crushing defeat, a humiliating defeat or even a resounding defeat: Van Gaal’s side suffered a humiliating defeat in the second round of the League Cup on Tuesday./This was a crushing defeat for the reigning champion. When, on the other hand, a person or team loses by very few goals or points, the result is sometimes described as a narrow defeat: United experienced a narrow defeat to Lucena in their opening game in Marbella. The phrase be narrowly defeated is also often used: The reserve side were narrowly defeated on Saturday in a pre-season run out against City.
‘Concede’ is a useful verb in the context of losing. To concede a goal/point, is to allow the opposing player or side to score a goal or point against you: Amazingly, Newcastle conceded three goals within the first eighteen minutes. ‘Outplay’ is another useful verb. If a player or side is outplayed, they are defeated because their opponent(s) performed more cleverly and successfully: Captain Ben Evans admitted that his side were outplayed by India.
Not surprisingly, a number of the more informal phrases used to describe very easy defeats sound quite violent: For example, a person or side may be said to take or get a thumping or take or get a hammering: Team USA took a thumping from Costa Rica./They got a hammering in their next match. Similarly, the phrases take a battering and take or get a drubbing are used to mean the same thing: They got a drubbing at Old Trafford earlier in the season, losing 7-1.
And finally, a couple of nouns to describe very easy defeats. A game or sports event that one person or side wins very easily may be described as a walkover, (also US walkaway): They may well win, but it certainly won’t be a walkover for them. A whitewash, meanwhile, is a game or sports event in which the losing person or side scores nothing: In the event, the match ended in a whitewash for City.
Well, I hope you won’t need to use any of the above phrases to describe your favourite sportsperson’s or team’s performance when they next play!