tight·​en | \ ˈtī-tᵊn How to pronounce tighten (audio) \
tightened; tightening\ ˈtīt-​niŋ How to pronounce tightening (audio) , ˈtī-​tᵊn-​iŋ \

Definition of tighten

intransitive verb

: to become tight or tighter
tighten one's belt
: to practice strict economy

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from tighten

tightener \ ˈtīt-​nər How to pronounce tightener (audio) , ˈtī-​tᵊn-​ər \ noun

Synonyms & Antonyms for tighten



Visit the Thesaurus for More 

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 Sequoia, which already has backed major startups in Southeast Asia like the ride-hailing giant Gojek, is seeking to strengthen its foothold in the region’s startup ecosystem even while other funders tighten their wallets amid the pandemic. Grady Mcgregor, Fortune, "A hotel-turned-security office signals Hong Kong’s big chill," 9 July 2020 The Covid-19 pandemic has only heightened the need for partners, as venture capitalists tighten the purse strings on big bets like self-driving. Aarian Marshall, Wired, "Self-Driving Tech Is Becoming a Game of Partnerships," 7 July 2020 The national security law, passed last week, is Beijing’s latest effort to tighten its grip on the onetime British colony which saw anti-government protests sweep across the city starting last June. Jane Li, Quartz, "TikTok’s Hong Kong exit isn’t a stand against Beijing’s internet censorship," 7 July 2020 This widening in black-white wages occurred, as Donald Trump never tired of pointing out, during a period when black unemployment was falling sharply and black incomes were rising—both predictable outcomes as labor markets tighten. Timothy Noah, The New Republic, "The Black Wage Gap Matters," 11 June 2020 While Chinese Premier Li Keqiang last month reiterated a pledge to implement the agreement that was inked in January, tensions have continued to escalate since then amid a standoff over Beijing’s move to tighten its grip on Hong Kong. Bloomberg News, BostonGlobe.com, "China halts some US farm imports, threatening trade deal," 1 June 2020 After a spike in the rate of positive coronavirus tests, Contra Costa County will ban indoor worship services and tighten face mask rules, officials said Saturday. Anna Bauman, SFChronicle.com, "Contra Costa County bans indoor religious services after positive test rate tops 8%," 11 July 2020 Economists warned that that wasn't an accurate picture because the survey was completed before a resurgence in coronavirus cases forced many states to tighten regulations on businesses. Caitlin Conant, CBS News, "2020 Daily Trail Markers: Supreme Court rules on Trump financial records," 9 July 2020 Do not top off when refueling and tighten the gas cap. Madeline Mitchell, The Enquirer, "Air quality alert in effect through holiday weekend across Greater Cincinnati," 3 July 2020

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.

See More

First Known Use of tighten

circa 1727, in the meaning defined at transitive sense

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about tighten

Time Traveler for tighten

Time Traveler

The first known use of tighten was circa 1727

See more words from the same year

Statistics for tighten

Last Updated

31 Jul 2020

Cite this Entry

“Tighten.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/tighten. Accessed 8 Aug. 2020.

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for tighten


How to pronounce tighten (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of tighten

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


tight·​en | \ ˈtī-tᵊn How to pronounce tighten (audio) \
tightened; tightening

Kids Definition of tighten

: to make or become tight He tightened his grip.

Keep scrolling for more

More from Merriam-Webster on tighten

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for tighten

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with tighten

Spanish Central: Translation of tighten

Nglish: Translation of tighten for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of tighten for Arabic Speakers

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).


Test Your Vocabulary

Original Meanings Quiz

  • rembrandt painting a young scholar and his tutor
  • Which of the following is the earliest known sense of the word awe?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

Bee Cubed

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!