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).
American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition. Copyright © 2016 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
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. So far as the prospective territory was concerned, he unquestionably died too soon.
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.
Mary, however, arrives alone at the remote Himalayan village 7000 feet above the plains of Northern India, because Richard had been killed in a hit-and-run accident a little over a year before, and she is still at loose ends. Dr.