loos·​en | \ ˈlü-sᵊn How to pronounce loosen (audio) \
loosened; loosening\ ˈlüs-​niŋ How to pronounce loosen (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 blast happened because routine detonations (even after tests) were staged to loosen the fertilizer and, at the time, its explosiveness was not known. Marc Bona, cleveland, "100 years ago: 1921 in news, entertainment, American life, famous firsts, world affairs, more," 19 Jan. 2021 Simply wet the stone and the bowl, then gently scrub the line of hard water deposits to loosen and wipe them away. Jamie Kim, Good Housekeeping, "How to Easily Remove Hard Water Stains," 18 Jan. 2021 Trump administration officials last week urged states to loosen eligibility criteria and to begin vaccinating all Americans 65 and older. New York Times, "Biden’s incoming chief of staff warns that the virus death toll will reach 500,000 by the end of February.," 17 Jan. 2021 Lawmakers moved quickly in the spring to temporarily loosen rules and allow Medicare to reimburse for virtual care, but those would have to be made permanent. Washington Post, "In 2020, we reached peak Internet. Here’s what worked — and what flopped.," 28 Dec. 2020 Competing bills introduced in the U.S. Senate would loosen restrictions on football and basketball players’ ability to sign endorsement deals and cash in on their names, images and likenesses (NIL). Eddie Pells, orlandosentinel.com, "COVID-19, lawsuits signal changes looming for college sports," 25 Dec. 2020 Ford recalled select 2020-21 Ford Explorer and Lincoln Aviator vehicles because motor mount fasteners may loosen and disconnect from the engine, which could kill power. Phoebe Wall Howard, Detroit Free Press, "Ford recalls 2021 E-series for burn risk, 2020-21 Explorer and Aviators for power loss," 23 Dec. 2020 Current election returns also suggest labor’s biggest wish, to loosen property tax rules for corporations and use the money for schools and government services, is also unlikely to prevail. John Myers, Los Angeles Times, "Newsletter: Essential Politics: America’s fear and loathing political season marches on," 9 Nov. 2020 The decision to loosen the guidelines and reopen some schools comes just as the virus is surging to new highs in the state. oregonlive, "State relaxes virus standards allowing thousands of students to return classroom," 30 Oct. 2020

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

26 Jan 2021

Cite this Entry

“Loosen.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/loosen. Accessed 27 Jan. 2021.

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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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Comments on loosen

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