loos·​en ˈlü-sᵊn How to pronounce loosen (audio)
loosened; loosening ˈlü-sᵊn-iŋ How to pronounce loosen (audio)

transitive verb

: to release from restraint
: to make looser
loosened his tie
loosen a screw
: to relieve (the bowels) of constipation
: to cause or permit to become less strict
often used with up
loosened the rules

intransitive verb

: to become loose or looser

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. See More
Recent Examples on the Web His pace slowed down, his grip on the back of my head would loosen a little bit. Hanif Abdurraqib, The New Yorker, 24 Feb. 2024 If parts of the egg white stick to the shell, try peeling the egg under running water to encourage the shell to loosen without taking all of the egg white with it. Southern Living Test Kitchen, Southern Living, 22 Feb. 2024 And the biggest unknown of all: The shooter has never been identified, despite a $50,000 reward offer from the Los Angeles City Council to loosen the lips of potential witnesses. Matthew Ormseth, Los Angeles Times, 21 Feb. 2024 When the former president’s control over the party appeared to be loosening last winter, the group invited every top-tier GOP presidential hopeful to a donor retreat in Palm Beach – except Trump. Rachel Looker, USA TODAY, 21 Feb. 2024 Reports began swirling this week that the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention could soon loosen its COVID-19 guidelines. Brianna Taylor, Sacramento Bee, 14 Feb. 2024 Key Background Musk, who closed his whopping $44 billion purchase of Twitter in October 2022, has come under fire in his 16 months at the helm of the company over his decisions to loosen the site’s content moderation policies and reinstate controversial accounts that had been banned. Brian Bushard, Forbes, 13 Feb. 2024 Advertisement The package would also loosen rules for electrified fences and give developers more options for complying with some requirements of the controversial high-density housing incentive program known as Complete Communities. David Garrick, San Diego Union-Tribune, 7 Feb. 2024 Essentially, the soil loosens itself, eliminating the need for raking. Chris McKeown, The Enquirer, 3 Feb. 2024 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'loosen.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

First Known Use

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

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

Dictionary Entries Near loosen

Cite this Entry

“Loosen.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/loosen. Accessed 3 Mar. 2024.

Kids Definition


loos·​en ˈlüs-ᵊn How to pronounce loosen (audio)
loosened; loosening ˈlüs-niŋ How to pronounce loosen (audio)
: to set free
: to make or become loose or looser
: to cause or permit to become less strict
loosened the rules

More from Merriam-Webster on loosen

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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