At a loss for words VERSUS Lost for words


Could you please tell me if the following sentences have the same meaning? Which one do you think is more common? Is it the difference of BE and AmE?

1- I was at a loss for words when I opened the parcel.

2- I was lost for words when I opened the parcel.


Both expressions mean the same. The first one, ‘at a loss for words’, is more familiar to me, but I couldn’t say if there is a BrE/AmE difference.

Many thanks, Conchita

Your answer prompted another thought. What is the short form of British English?

BE or BrE?

I have ben writing the first one…


Hi Tom,

I think BrE is the favourite one following the same pattern as AmE.


Hi Tom

At a loss for words is also the expression I’m familiar with (AmE).

The expression lost for words sounds like a deviation from the “usual” expression to me.

However, a BNC search had the following results:

lost for words - 52 instances
at a loss for words - 19 instances

So, possibly lost for words is used more in the UK than in the US.

Sir Alan, what do you think? Is lost for words common in the UK?


Hi Lady Amy,

I would go for ‘lost for words’. Kinda like the sound also of speechless/dumfounded/bereft of speech or words/words fail me.