loos·​en | \ ˈlü-sᵊn How to pronounce loosen (audio) \
loosened; loosening\ ˈlüs-​niŋ How to pronounce loosening (audio) , 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 uploosened the rules

intransitive verb

: to become loose or looser

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Synonyms & Antonyms for loosen



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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 The ultimate goal for them is to have marijuana be de-scheduled, but still regulated, so that it’ll be treated similarly to alcohol and tobacco, but there are other changes that could help to loosen current restrictions. Kimberly Leonard, Washington Examiner, "Daily on Healthcare: House panel set to weigh in on weed," 9 Jan. 2020 The amendment is still on the books, though Trump signed an executive order to try and loosen its restrictions in May 2017. NBC News, "Trump looks to cement, expand evangelical support with launch of new 2020 coalition in Miami," 4 Jan. 2020 That year, a mass shooting at a church in Sutherland Springs killed 26 people and prodded legislators to loosen gun restrictions. Brian Chasnoff, ExpressNews.com, "Across denominations, San Antonio churches have members armed and ready at services," 1 Jan. 2020 Fielder is an activist who has campaigned against the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline; helped organize public banking efforts in San Francisco; and worked to defeat a city initiative that would loosen taser use for police in the Bay Area. Molly Taft, Teen Vogue, "Jackie Fielder: Meet the Young Indigenous Activist Running for California’s State Senate," 24 Dec. 2019 Mr Mirziyoyev has loosened the screws on the press, whose coverage of the campaign has been livelier than before, though there are red lines: criticising the president remains a no-no. The Economist, "Uzbekistan holds a semi-serious election," 18 Dec. 2019 Despite the fact Earnhardt used a seat that was anything but safe and was notorious for loosening his seat belts during a race, NASCAR blamed Simpson seat belts for the death of NASCAR’s biggest star. Robin Miller, USA TODAY, "Appreciation: Racer, pioneer E.J. 'Bill' Simpson saved many lives with his safety innovations," 16 Dec. 2019 Back in the ’90s, E-40, Suga Free and Silkk the Shocker each found new ways to melt the clock, cramming their lines with lumps of molten syllables, reminding us how mouth-music can loosen our sense of temporality. Chris Richards, Washington Post, "The year’s best rappers sounded ahead of their time. Literally.," 13 Dec. 2019 Updos skew romantic as well, midi-ponytails worn finger-raked and softened by loosened, face-framing sections; half-up styles pulling focus to old-world earrings and petal pink pouts. Vogue, "Why Camila Morrone Is a Breakout Beauty Star to Watch," 6 Dec. 2019

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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Time Traveler for loosen

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for loosen

Last Updated

16 Jan 2020

Cite this Entry

“Loosen.” The Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/loosen. Accessed 22 January 2020.

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More Definitions for loosen


How to pronounce loosen (audio)

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 How to pronounce loosen (audio) \
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

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