loos·en | \ˈlü-sᵊn \
loosened; loosening\ˈlüs-niŋ, ˈlü-sᵊn-iŋ \

Definition of loosen 

transitive verb

1 : to release from restraint

2 : to make looser loosened his tie loosen a screw

3 : to relieve (the bowels) of constipation

4 : to cause or permit to become less strict often used with up loosened the rules

intransitive verb

: to become loose or looser

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Examples of loosen in a Sentence

He used a spade to loosen the soil. She loosened the cake from the sides of the pan. After eating so much I had to loosen my belt. When the meeting was over he loosened his tie. One of the screws had loosened a bit and had to be tightened. Each generation seems to loosen the established standards of behavior. Standards of behavior seem to be loosening everywhere.
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Recent Examples on the Web

Over the past several years, Saudi Arabia gradually has been loosening restrictions on movie screenings, with local film festivals and screenings in makeshift theaters. Aya Batrawy, BostonGlobe.com, "Saudi Arabia to show ‘Black Panther’ to mark cinema opening," 19 Apr. 2018 Now Pruitt has signaled he's committed to loosening restrictions, putting California and the federal government on a possible collision course in court. Dale Kasler, sacbee, "Trump administration signals fight with California over pollution from cars | The Sacramento Bee," 13 Mar. 2018 For two decades, individual states have loosened restrictions on medical marijuana. Anne Saker, Cincinnati.com, "Cincinnati hospitals reluctantly realize that medical marijuana is coming to town," 11 July 2018 Policymakers can also adjust government borrowing costs--tightening or loosening the flow of money throughout the financial system--and enact regulations that keep money from leaving the country. Chelsey Dulaney, WSJ, "Emerging Markets Fight Back to Bolster Currencies," 9 July 2018 The city loosened its rules to attract more big-name Chinese technology companies and benefit from one of the world’s biggest online booms. Alexandra Stevenson, BostonGlobe.com, "Xiaomi’s weak IPO raises doubts about China’s tech boom," 9 July 2018 The city loosened its rules to attract more big-name Chinese technology companies and benefit from one of the world’s biggest online booms. Alexandra Stevenson, New York Times, "Xiaomi’s Weak I.P.O. Raises Doubts About China’s Tech Boom," 8 July 2018 But after the recession, the city loosened that requirement. Steve Harrison, charlotteobserver, "Charlotte supports millions for Amazon, but doesn't know how much new jobs will pay," 5 July 2018 Tight controls on media in the country were loosened in 2012 as Myanmar moved from decades of harsh military rule toward a more democratic system. Shibani Mahtani, Washington Post, "Myanmar judge to decide next week whether to try case of Reuters journalists held for 200 days," 2 July 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'loosen.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of loosen

14th century, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1

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Statistics for loosen

Last Updated

9 Oct 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for loosen

The first known use of loosen was in the 14th century

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More Definitions for loosen



English Language Learners Definition of loosen

: to make (something) less tight or firm : to make (something) loose or looser

: to become less tight or firm : to become loose or looser

: to become or to cause (something) to become less strict


loos·en | \ˈlü-sᵊn \
loosened; loosening

Kids Definition of loosen

: to make or become less tight or firmly fixed Can you loosen this screw? His grip loosened.

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More from Merriam-Webster on loosen

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for loosen

Spanish Central: Translation of loosen

Nglish: Translation of loosen for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of loosen for Arabic Speakers

Comments on loosen

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a generally accepted meaning of a word

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