tight·en | \ˈtī-tᵊn \
tightened; tightening\ˈtīt-niŋ, ˈtī-tᵊn-iŋ \

Definition of tighten 

intransitive verb

: to become tight or tighter

tighten one's belt

: to practice strict economy

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Other Words from tighten

tightener \ˈtīt-nər, ˈtī-tᵊn-ər \ noun

Synonyms & Antonyms for tighten


strain, stretch, tauten, tense


loosen, slack, slacken

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Examples of tighten in a Sentence

She tightened her hold on the handle. tighten the straps on the backpack so that the load doesn't shift while hiking

Recent Examples on the Web

Ideally, Florida will address these problems and tighten up the process. Jack Greiner, Cincinnati.com, "Concealed carry: Why keeping Ohio's concealed carry permit records secret could be dangerous," 11 July 2018 The price of lumber settling in September is up 66% since Trump’s election, thanks to wildfires and trade disputes between the U.S. and Canada tightening supply. Polina Marinova, Fortune, "Term Sheet -- Tuesday, July 10," 10 July 2018 There are a lot of electronic gizmos to conform the ride to the driver, and putting it in dynamic mode tightens the suspension and steering, delays the shift points and puts a smile on your face. Robert Duffer, chicagotribune.com, "Review: 2018 Jaguar XF Sportbrake is no family truckster," 9 July 2018 Until Russian troops are withdrawn, at the very least from Ukraine, sanctions will not only be maintained, but tightened over time. Evelyn Farkas, Time, "How Trump Could Actually Make the Summit with Putin a Success," 9 July 2018 So, what your favorite nephew probably did was remove the little black plastic cover on the battery terminal and tighten up the loose cable with his wrench. Ray Magliozzi, courant.com, "Car Talk: Loose Cable Likely To Blame For Starting Problem," 6 July 2018 Courts have tightened the pump valves to protect the critters, angering valley farmers. George Skelton, latimes.com, "What do Southern Californians really get out of Gov. Jerry Brown's twin tunnels project?," 12 July 2018 So for instance that means tightening sanctions on North Korea, but more important, going after North Korea's major power sponsors, the Russians and the Chinese. Fox News, "Tom Fitton: FBI looked for excuses to target Trump's team," 7 July 2018 Google doesn’t sell more ads because of Gmail plugins, and Facebook is gradually tightening the rules on its APIs, incrementally closing off the platform. Russell Brandom, The Verge, "Will third-party plugins survive the tech backlash?," 6 July 2018

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

circa 1727, in the meaning defined at transitive sense

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Statistics for tighten

Last Updated

6 Oct 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for tighten

The first known use of tighten was circa 1727

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More Definitions for tighten



English Language Learners Definition of tighten

: to make (something) tight or tighter or to become tight or tighter


tight·en | \ˈtī-tᵊn \
tightened; tightening

Kids Definition of tighten

: to make or become tight He tightened his grip.

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Comments on tighten

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


one that holds something together

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