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 While the pastry bakes, prepare the filling: Add the corn syrup, orange zest and juice, molasses, ginger and salt to a small saucepan and warm over low heat just until the syrups liquefy and loosen. The New York Times News Service Syndicate, The Denver Post, "The shortcut to crisp, tender pie crust," 26 Nov. 2019 This will help wash away any extra grime loosened by the baking soda. Country Living, "How to Clean a Washing Machine the Right Way," 22 Nov. 2019 Moving to the stern end, wedge a block of wood between the prop and anti-ventilation plate, loosen the prop nut and pull the prop. Popmech Editors, Popular Mechanics, "How To Winterize Your Boat for the Cold Months Ahead," 21 Nov. 2019 Most Democrats swallowed concerns that the Cures bill was too industry-friendly and loosened federal oversight for new drugs and devices. BostonGlobe.com, "Warren’s wider lens on health care has helped her win left-wing support from coast to coast, but it has left industry figures in Massachusetts, who previously found her approachable, resentful of the senator’s national political ambitions.," 19 Nov. 2019 Various congressmen were already exiting the House floor, loosening their ties, when Abigail Spanberger came speeding into the Capitol around 6:30 p.m. on Tuesday, July 16. Susan Dominus, New York Times, "Hope and High Drama: A Year With Two New Democratic Congresswomen," 18 Nov. 2019 Generally, its decisions tend toward loosening rather than straitening the rules. Mary Norris, The New Yorker, "Mary Norris’s Thoughts on Pesky Possessives," 30 Oct. 2019 Both teams could be in the market for RB help, and Gordon would make sense if Chargers loosen asking price. Tim Bielik, cleveland, "NFL trade deadline rumors and news: What the Redskins want for Trent Williams," 29 Oct. 2019 But as states begin to lift or loosen their prohibitions on marijuana, major sports leagues are reconsidering their bans on therapeutic and even recreational cannabis use. Jimmy Golen, courant.com, "CBD company to advertise at doorstep of Patriots’ stadium," 25 Oct. 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

4 Dec 2019

Cite this Entry

“Loosen.” The Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/loosened. Accessed 7 December 2019.

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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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