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 up loosened the rules

intransitive verb

: to become loose or looser

Keep scrolling for more

Synonyms & Antonyms for loosen


ease, relax, slack, slacken


strain, stretch, tense, tension, tighten

Visit the Thesaurus for More 

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

Next month, 10 new laws will loosen restrictions on public gun possession in Texas, allowing guns in mosques, churches and school grounds. Ashley Shaffer, USA TODAY, "New searing allegations against the Boy Scouts," 6 Aug. 2019 After nearly four years of tightening, Jerome Powell, the central bank’s chairman, said the Fed was loosening monetary policy amid uncertainties about trade and the world economy as well as lower inflation expectations. The Economist, "Business this week," 3 Aug. 2019 So a governor who supports gun ownership is likely to appoint board members who would grant more permits and loosen restrictions, while a governor favoring gun control is likely to appoint board members who would deny permits. Pamela Wood, baltimoresun.com, "With new members and an end looming, Maryland’s Handgun Permit Review Board rejects more appeals," 29 July 2019 The government should be hammering these predatory businesses; instead, the Trump administration is loosening the reins. Robert Gebelhoff, The Denver Post, "Commentary: Yes, I want to pay off my student loans, but these relief plans aren’t serious," 26 June 2019 The oils and cream will loosen the lash glue and cause the extensions to fall off faster, while mascara will add weight to the very-delicate lashes and could cause breakage. Megan Decker, refinery29.com, "Everything You Need To Know About Eyelash Extensions," 8 June 2019 Drop the shucked fava beans in the boiling water and cook, stirring, to set their color and loosen their skins, about 1 minute. Ben Mims, latimes.com, "The Saturday Cook: Fava beans shine in a vegetarian spin on scampi," 8 June 2019 Naperville in 2014 loosened its piercing regulations and began allowing for ear piercings without a physician. Erin Hegarty, Naperville Sun, "Naperville adjusts city code to allow tattooing, microblading without a physician present," 7 June 2019 Once Scarlett loosened the braids, the resulting texture served as inspiration for an evening look centering on a slightly wet-look wave. Calin Van Paris, Vogue, "Let Margot Robbie Be Your Guide to Modern Bohemian Beauty," 6 June 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.

See More

First Known Use of loosen

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about loosen

Statistics for loosen

Last Updated

14 Aug 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for loosen

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

See more words from the same century

Keep scrolling for more

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 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.

Keep scrolling for more

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

What made you want to look up loosen? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


to move or obtain by small maneuvers

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Summer 2019 Words of the Day Quiz

  • a-bowl-of-peach-sorbet-with-cut-peaches-next-to-it
  • Which is a synonym of desideratum?
How Strong Is Your Vocabulary?

Test your vocabulary with our 10-question quiz!


Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!