When talking about winning and losing, vincere (to win) and perdere (to lose) are the words you’re looking for. When talking about finding something and losing something, trovare (to find) and perdere (to lose) are useful, too. But perdere also has some other important common uses.
When you miss a train, you lose it: perdere il treno (to miss the train).
Io avevo avuto un grosso imprevisto che mi fece perdere il treno per Londra.
I had had something unexpected happen that made me miss the train for London.
Caption 49, Anna e Marika: Il verbo avere - Part 1 of 4
When you waste time, you lose it: perdere tempo (to waste time).
Lo sapevo che non dovevo venire. Mi state facendo perdere solo tempo.
I knew I shouldn't have come. You're just wasting my time.
When there’s a leaky faucet, it loses water: perde (it leaks).
Ma guarda che l'ho aggiustato il rubinetto, adesso perde poco!
But look, I fixed the faucet, now it leaks very little!
When you let something go, you drop it, you forget about it, you let it get lost: lasciare perdere (to let it be).
Ti aiuto ad asciugare? -No, lascia perdere, sei stanco, lavati!
Shall I help you dry? -No, forget it, you're tired, wash up!
Much of the time perdere means “to lose,” but, non perdere di vista (don’t lose sight of) the common expressions above!
Here are some more instances where perdere is used:
When you’ve missed the beginning of a movie:
Ho perso l’inizio!
I missed the beginning!
When you’ve lost weight:
Ho perso dieci chili!
I lost ten kilos!
When you don’t want to miss something:
Venezia è da non perdere!
Venice is not to be missed!
When you can’t find your way:
Be on the lookout for these particular meanings of perdere. You’ll find them cropping up often in Yabla videos, and in real life, if you’re lucky enough to listen to Italian conversation. Soon enough all these meanings will become familiar to you. And when you next miss a train, or a flight, or have a leaky faucet, or get lost, or waste time, ricordatevi (remember) that perdere is a word da non perdere (not to be missed).