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

intransitive verb

: to become tight or tighter
ˈtīt-nər How to pronounce tighten (audio)
tighten one's belt
: to practice strict economy

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 Thanks to an increasingly tightening supply, cocoa futures jumped as high as $5,798 per metric ton on Friday, their highest level going back 65 years, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Marco Quiroz-Gutierrez, Fortune, 9 Feb. 2024 Find it on Amazon This Red Light Wand Works Magic Bring the power of red light therapy to your beautiful skin with this Red Light Wand that will not only tighten your skin and lift your face but fight against wrinkles too. Hyphensocial Contributors, Rolling Stone, 7 Feb. 2024 Apple has spared no expense with its embrace of movie theaters, shelling out $200 million to produce historical epics, war dramas and action comedies… all while the global box office contracts and rivals scramble to tighten their budgets. Rebecca Rubin, Variety, 5 Feb. 2024 Democratic leaders say the legislation would tighten existing gun laws in a bid to ensure that restrictions already enacted — and those passed in the future — are actually enforceable. Seth Klamann, The Mercury News, 4 Feb. 2024 The collar is metal, tightens with a thumbscrew, and rotates freely without detent stops. PCMAG, 1 Feb. 2024 Lack of Color's straw hat is especially ship-friendly—on windy days, tighten the chin strap to keep it from flying off. Madison Flager, Condé Nast Traveler, 31 Jan. 2024 Lawmakers responded at the end of 2020 by tightening the FAA’s oversight of Boeing employees delegated to conduct safety work on the government’s behalf, and directing the agency to issue new rules requiring manufacturers developing new aircraft to disclose critical safety information. Lori Aratani, Washington Post, 30 Jan. 2024 Gwyneth Paltrow’s lifestyle website goop has introduced the masses to the vital importance of vaginal steaming and the use of jade eggs for tightening one’s hoo-ha. Maria Tettamanti, Miami Herald, 30 Jan. 2024 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'tighten.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

First Known Use

circa 1727, in the meaning defined at transitive sense

Time Traveler
The first known use of tighten was circa 1727

Dictionary Entries Near tighten

Cite this Entry

“Tighten.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/tighten. Accessed 21 Feb. 2024.

Kids Definition


tight·​en ˈtīt-ᵊn How to pronounce tighten (audio)
tightened; tightening ˈtīt-niŋ How to pronounce tighten (audio)
: to make or become tight or tighter
-nər How to pronounce tighten (audio)

More from Merriam-Webster on tighten

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