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

Fears that tightening monetary policy would crimp corporate profits and diminish the allure of stocks have kept major indexes under pressure for much of the past couple of months. Akane Otani, WSJ, "The Market’s Latest Problem: Hesitation to Buy the Dip," 9 Dec. 2018 Another contributor could be changes in state Medicaid IT systems that may have tightened verification procedures. Dylan Scott, Vox, "Under Trump, the number of uninsured kids is suddenly rising," 29 Nov. 2018 Ross said their enrollments also reflect immigrant patterns and the nation's rules for refugee resettlement — when families are coming or the rules for refugee status tighten — the academy gets less students. Diane Smith, star-telegram, "'After the headlines have faded,' they will be the first to see immigrant children's trauma," 29 June 2018 Recent sellers have been in their homes 10 years, Nimkoff said, further tightening inventory. Bill Zimmerman, OrlandoSentinel.com, "Orlando home sales drop by 11.4 percent, report finds," 15 June 2018 Thread the drain tube into the relief valve and tighten. Steve Willson, Popular Mechanics, "How To Install An Electric Water Heater," 24 Aug. 2018 With ever-tightening TSA restrictions on smart luggage, Herschel made sure its Trade Power bags had tool-free battery removal. Mara Balagtas, Condé Nast Traveler, "Herschel Supply Co. Launches Entire Travel Line," 16 Aug. 2018 As travel got cheaper and communication technologies tightened connections between nations, fans began making pilgrimages to significant sites and to meet one another, particularly after World War II. Nancy Baym, WIRED, "Book Excerpt: How Music Fans Built the Internet," 10 July 2018 One result of Mr Xi’s efforts to tighten the party’s control over the media has been that public discussion of prostitution has become even more prudish. The Economist, "In China, sex work is being pushed back into the shadows," 5 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

15 Dec 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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More from Merriam-Webster on tighten

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with tighten

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for tighten

Spanish Central: Translation of tighten

Nglish: Translation of tighten for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of tighten for Arabic Speakers

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