re·​lax | \ri-ˈlaks \
relaxed; relaxing; relaxes

Definition of relax 

transitive verb

1 : to make less tense or rigid : slacken relaxed his grip

2 : to make less severe or stringent : modify relax immigration laws

3 : to deprive of energy, zeal, or strength of purpose

4 : to relieve from nervous tension

5 : to treat (hair) chemically in order to relax curls

intransitive verb

1 : to become lax, weak, or loose : rest

2 : to become less intense or severe hoped the committee would relax in its opposition

3 of a muscle or muscle fiber : to become inactive and lengthen

4 : to cast off social restraint, nervous tension, or anxiety couldn't relax in crowds

5 : to seek rest or recreation relax at the seashore

6 : to relieve constipation

7 : to attain equilibrium following the abrupt removal of some influence (such as light, high temperature, or stress)

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Other Words from relax

relaxer noun

Synonyms & Antonyms for relax


ease, loosen, slack, slacken


strain, stretch, tense, tension, tighten

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Examples of relax in a Sentence

The muscles in my neck and shoulders should relax after a nice hot shower. A hot shower relaxed the tight muscles in my neck and shoulders. I can't relax with all this noise! Just relax, there's nothing to worry about. Try to relax and enjoy the ride.
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Recent Examples on the Web

Anyone worried that Audio-Technica tuned its headphones too closely to classical genres and music can relax. Vlad Savov, The Verge, "Audio-Technica M50xBT review: better beats," 12 Nov. 2018 In this new store, Burrow wants nothing more from you than to sit back and relax. Chavie Lieber, Vox, "Let people hang out in your store and watch TV.," 3 Oct. 2018 Passengers can expect to travel to historic plantations, bustling cities, relaxing beaches, and areas brimming with local wildlife, all while enjoying November's crisp weather. Jessica Leigh Mattern, Country Living, "This Thanksgiving-Themed Cruise Through the South Is the Best Way to Spend the Holidays," 1 Oct. 2018 The pieces practically beg you to hole up at home, light a candle, and relax. Emma Sarran Webster, Teen Vogue, "Ikea Debuts 2018 Winter Holiday Collection," 28 Sep. 2018 Freed from the task of driving, the passengers are able to relax in the large interior. Jane Stueckemann, Houston Chronicle, "Cy-Fair group helps make public speaking a passion for its members," 10 July 2018 Konstantinov and Mnatsanakov followed, relaxing on the long bench to the side. Keith Gave, Detroit Free Press, "Limousine crash ended Detroit Red Wings' summer of joy after just 6 days," 13 June 2018 More on the Tigers: Deatherage is playing relaxed, confident and loose, which is an important part of the puzzle. Jeff Seidel, Detroit Free Press, "Tigers outfield prospect Brock Deatherage a 'Kirk Gibson guy'," 13 July 2018 And though that may not sound relaxing, Bill Hader (who stars as Barry), Henry Winkler (who plays his acting coach), and the rest of the cast manage to bring a sweetness that makes the whole thing almost heartwarming. Emily Dreyfuss, WIRED, "9 Emmy-Nominated Shows You Can Binge to Escape Reality," 13 July 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'relax.' 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 relax

15th century, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1

History and Etymology for relax

Middle English, from Latin relaxare, from re- + laxare to loosen, from laxus loose — more at slack

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Statistics for relax

Last Updated

15 Nov 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for relax

The first known use of relax was in the 15th century

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More Definitions for relax



English Language Learners Definition of relax

: to become or to cause (something) to become less tense, tight, or stiff

: to stop feeling nervous or worried

: to spend time resting or doing something enjoyable especially after you have been doing work


re·​lax | \ri-ˈlaks \
relaxed; relaxing

Kids Definition of relax

1 : to make or become loose or less tense Relax your muscles. She relaxed her grip on the reins.

2 : to make or become less severe or strict Mom relaxed the rules for the summer.

3 : to become calm and free from stress

4 : to seek rest or enjoyment You can relax at the beach.

re·​lax | \ri-ˈlaks \

Medical Definition of relax 

1 : to slacken or make less tense or rigid alternately contracting and relaxing their muscles

2 : to relieve from nervous tension

3 : to relieve from constipation medications to relax the bowels

intransitive verb

1 of a muscle or muscle fiber : to return to an inactive or resting state especially : to become inactive and lengthen

2 : to cast off social restraint, nervous tension, or anxiety couldn't relax in crowds

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Comments on relax

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


to clear from alleged fault or guilt

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