Definition of loosen in English:

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Pronunciation: /ˈlo͞os(ə)n/


[with object]
1Make (something tied, fastened, or fixed in place) less tight or firm: loosen your collar and tie
More example sentences
  • The girl to our right, in complementary pinks and peach colors, lifts her face as she loosens the tight black collar around her neck.
  • She shook her head in acknowledgment, and went to Glory, loosening the tied reins.
  • His fingers threaded through her tight chignon and loosened it.
make slack, slacken, unstick;
unfasten, detach, release, disconnect, undo, unclasp, unlatch, unbolt
1.1Make more lax: his main mistake was to loosen monetary policy (as noun loosening) a loosening of the benefit rules
More example sentences
  • In this respect, Britain is better placed than most, since base rates of 4.75% give the Bank of England ample leeway to loosen monetary policy.
  • There is currently no need for any further rate increases, but the Bank must resist the temptation to loosen monetary policy any further until it becomes clear that inflation has been tamed again.
  • It is clear that the present Governor loosened monetary policy earlier than his predecessor would have done.
1.2Relax (one’s grip or muscles): he loosened his hold so she could pull her arms free
More example sentences
  • Having a stretch loosens your muscles and relaxes your body.
  • Emma immediately relaxed and loosened her grip on my leg.
  • Bandit loosened his grip, relaxing his arms until his hold on her turned into a real embrace.
become slack, slacken, become loose, let go, ease;
work loose, work free
weaken, relax, slacken, loose, lessen, reduce, moderate, diminish
1.3 [no object] Become relaxed or less tight: the stiffness in his shoulders had loosened
More example sentences
  • At the end of the holiday, I was starting to feel the knots in my shoulders loosen and my mind start to clear after all the drama and stress of the past few months.
  • Her head rested on his shoulder and her body loosened.
  • Amy's shoulders loosened and Hart gently trod back to sit quietly by her side.
1.4Make (a connection or relationship) less strong: he wanted to strengthen rather than loosen union links
More example sentences
  • Partisan politicization loosens the connection of the military to the American people.
  • Interest groups are reluctant to associate closely or openly with political parties, and the Labour party's connections with the trade unions have been loosened.
  • She wants to reform the stagnant economy, loosen union power and bring down taxes in a power-sharing Cabinet with the business-friendly FDP party.
1.5(With reference to the bowels) make or become relaxed before excretion: [no object]: his bowels loosened in terror
More example sentences
  • Prescribe tablets that will loosen their bowel locks.
  • High doses of vitamin C may loosen the bowels, though this effect invariably abates once the dose is suitably reduced.
  • ‘Er, hi Corina’, I greeted her meekly, my bowels loosening slightly.


loosen someone's tongue

Make someone talk freely.
Example sentences
  • He pre-empts the question with an invitation to his office ‘for a glass ‘, and the red wine dispensed liberally by his trusted assistant, Adrian, soon loosens his tongue.’
  • Perhaps his impending retirement loosened his tongue.
  • The confrontation, however, seemed to have loosened Katrina 's tongue.

Phrasal verbs

loosen up

Warm up in preparation for an activity: arrive early to loosen up and hit some practice shots
More example sentences
  • Precede your weight training with a light whole-body cardio warm-up as usual, and do some light sets of the first exercise to loosen up your muscles.
  • She took a few steps away from the others and then started doing a few exercises to loosen up her cramped muscles.
  • First classes were for beginners and those present were introduced to the foundation exercises to allow body muscles to loosen up.
1.1Make or become relaxed: they taught me to have fun at work and loosen up (loosen someone up) the beer is loosening him up
More example sentences
  • The crowd really loosened up once the headliner took the stage.
  • It's nice loosening up and being able to say what you really feel.
informal lighten up, go easy, chill (out), chillax, take a chill pill, kick back

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: loos·en

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