at loose ends

Also found in: Idioms.

loose end

A minor unresolved problem or difficulty, especially a final detail preceding the completion of something: The loose ends of the movie's plot are resolved in its sequel.
at loose ends
Without a clear purpose or regular occupation; unsettled in one's affairs: "At loose ends with family gone ... I joined some clubs thinking to find companionship and enrich my life" (Ruth Daniels).
References in classic literature ?
Higginson's congratulatory eloquence, this appeared to be the one thing which Colonel Pyncheon, provident and sagacious as he was, had allowed to go at loose ends.
Knowing Judith is temporarily at loose ends with Joe out of town for a few days, Renie talks her cousin into snooping around behind the scenes.
It's there that Bob makes eye contact with Charlotte (Scarlett Johansson, fiercely funny and intelligent), who, like Bob, is at loose ends in her life.