re·​lax | \ ri-ˈlaks How to pronounce relax (audio) \
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)

Other Words from relax

relaxer noun

Synonyms & Antonyms for relax



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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 But the broadening of eligibility rules only brings another group of claimants closer to the eligibility boundary lines, and the pressure to relax qualifying rules begins again. John F. Cogan, WSJ, 3 Jan. 2022 Speaking to Sydney radio station 2GB Tuesday NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet defended his decision to relax restrictions earlier this month, including reintroducing broad freedoms for unvaccinated people. Rhea Mogul And Adam Renton, CNN, 29 Dec. 2021 The decision to relax restrictions on the Caribbean islands come as several countries have cracked down on travel amid the fast spread of the omicron variant. Alison Fox, Travel + Leisure, 13 Dec. 2021 Since then, movements have come and gone to relax the restrictions or to give women more choice, but such efforts mostly went nowhere. Fox News, 28 Nov. 2021 The Bucks’ coaching staff and leadership of the franchise signed off on the plan to relax their own Covid restrictions, despite caution from the league office. Matt Sullivan, Rolling Stone, 18 Nov. 2021 Vaccine equity is likely to be a key issue in the upcoming G20 summit in Rome, where leaders of wealthy nations will be urged to do more to relax intellectual property restrictions preventing widespread manufacturing of the lifesaving products. Robert Hart, Forbes, 21 Oct. 2021 Mayor Van Johnson announced that health advisers concluded infection rates in the area have declined enough to relax restrictions on large outdoor gatherings. From Usa Today Network And Wire Reports, USA TODAY, 14 Oct. 2021 The North's latest moves appear aimed at pressuring South Korea, which wants to improve strained ties on the peninsula, to persuade the U.S. to relax the sanctions. Arkansas Online, 2 Oct. 2021

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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Time Traveler for relax

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for relax

Last Updated

7 Jan 2022

Cite this Entry

“Relax.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 16 Jan. 2022.

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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 How to pronounce relax (audio) \
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.


transitive verb
re·​lax | \ ri-ˈlaks How to pronounce relax (audio) \

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

More from Merriam-Webster on relax

Nglish: Translation of relax for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of relax for Arabic Speakers


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