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

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Other Words from tighten

tightener \ ˈtīt-​nər How to pronounce tightener (audio) , 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

The new law came amid pressure on Mexico to tighten its labor rules as part of the new trade agreement. Washington Post, "Mexican president promises AFl-CIO head new labor policy," 5 Sep. 2019 Amid outbursts from protesters opposed to mandatory vaccinations, the state Senate gave final approval Wednesday to a bill tightening rules for medical exemptions for children attending schools and sent it to Gov. Gavin Newsom. Dustin Gardiner, SFChronicle.com, "California bill tightening medical exemptions from vaccinations goes to Newsom," 4 Sep. 2019 The country, which has tightened rules on capital outflows, was fourth in 2018 and third in 2017. Julia Horowitz, CNN, "Brexit is back, and investors should buckle up," 29 Aug. 2019 In the petition, Bennett cited Pan’s legislation aimed at tightening rules for vaccination exemptions in California. Beth Mole, Ars Technica, "Anti-vaxxer livestreamed alleged assault on pro-vaccine lawmaker," 22 Aug. 2019 The rule does not apply to refugees and asylum applicants, although the administration has already tightened rules for such applicants. CBS News, "Top immigration official Ken Cuccinelli briefs reporters on change to "public charge" rule," 12 Aug. 2019 The large fine comes as the commission is working to tighten its rules and step up enforcement around who controls marijuana licenses in Massachusetts. Dan Adams, BostonGlobe.com, "Massachusetts marijuana regulators hit Curaleaf with record $250,000 fine," 8 Aug. 2019 The Obama Administration sought to tighten rules on how companies dispose of coal ash, which would have instituted uniform standards to reduce contamination. Justin Worland, Time, "President Trump Condemned Baltimore as 'Disgusting.' His Administration’s Policies Aren't Exactly Helping," 31 July 2019 But as China tightened its video game rules this year and Tencent has struggled to adapt, the company has turned its sights on the international market instead, especially as Fortnite reportedly raked in $3 billion in profits this year. Shannon Liao, The Verge, "China lifts video game ban but not for its biggest player," 29 Dec. 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

8 Sep 2019

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 How to pronounce tighten (audio) \
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

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).


readily or continually undergoing change

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