Definition of loosen in English:



  • 1Make (something tied, fastened, or fixed in place) less tight or firm.

    ‘loosen your collar and tie’
    • ‘‘Okay, okay,’ gasped John, loosening his collar so he could get a better breath.’
    • ‘The officer swallowed and loosened his collar slightly.’
    • ‘To balance the tension, loosen the tightest thread first’
    • ‘His fingers threaded through her tight chignon and loosened it.’
    • ‘Next, he loosened the collar of his white dress shirt.’
    • ‘‘Uh, thanks,’ Bella mumbled, trying to loosen her dress because it suddenly felt tight.’
    • ‘He was reaching up to loosen the collar of his shirt when he noticed his mother and younger sibling coming down the stairs.’
    • ‘My brain slowly began to click into gear and I started thinking about loosening his collar and laying him down.’
    • ‘He loosened his tie and unbuttoned the first two buttons of his shirt.’
    • ‘She shook her head in acknowledgment, and went to Glory, loosening the tied reins.’
    • ‘One should cushion the fall, cradle the head, remove glasses, and loosen tight clothes.’
    • ‘He puts down his briefcase, loosens his collar and falls into his leather chair.’
    • ‘He loosened his tie and undid the first button of his collar so he wouldn't suffocate.’
    • ‘She shook her head, before reaching up and loosening her hair free of its holder.’
    • ‘If the training collar is too tight, the pressure will not be relieved when you loosen the leash.’
    • ‘The girl to our right, in complementary pinks and peach colors, lifts her face as she loosens the tight black collar around her neck.’
    • ‘The wind tried tirelessly to loosen her tight pony-tail, but only resulted in removing a few strands to hang by her ears, decorated with gold hoops.’
    • ‘I was unable to loosen the tight wire, it was probably a pliant clothing hanger.’
    • ‘I watched him loosen his collar, and walk over to a stool where his violin case was, open.’
    • ‘With a last look that the door and windows were shuttered tight, I loosened my shirt.’
    make slack, slacken, slack, unstick
    unfasten, undo, release, unhook, slacken, let out
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    1. 1.1 Relax (one's grip or muscles)
      ‘he loosened his hold so she could pull her arms free’
      • ‘Aerobic exercise helps to loosen tense muscles.’
      • ‘Lucas only hung his head and loosened his grip on the pole in response.’
      • ‘To ease the aches and pains of the office, ask your partner to gently rub your shoulders, or try one of the exercises below to get your blood flowing and loosen your muscles.’
      • ‘‘Ok,’ Amber replied, stepping back and loosening her grip on him before letting go completely.’
      • ‘Lifeguards flushed the shark's gills with fresh water to loosen its grip.’
      • ‘She loosened her grip and kissed the top of his head.’
      • ‘Having a stretch loosens your muscles and relaxes your body.’
      • ‘He, in turn, loosened his grip and moved his hands to my hips.’
      • ‘Emma immediately relaxed and loosened her grip on my leg.’
      • ‘He turned to her without loosening his grip around her petite figure and displayed a mischievous grin.’
      • ‘When muscles are loosened and the circulation is good, good health will prevail and there will inevitably be less chance of any disfunction.’
      • ‘Yoga and breathing exercises help in getting rid of the spasm by loosening the muscles and maintaining balance of ‘prana’ throughout the body.’
      • ‘He loosened his grip and turned me around to sit on the bed.’
      • ‘For decades, it was accepted that every athlete should stretch before engaging in any exercise or sport to loosen the muscles and protect them from injury.’
      • ‘Expression blank and thoughts and emotions carefully controlled, she loosened her tight hold upon her fan.’
      • ‘Instead, he adopted a confused look and loosened his grip.’
      • ‘That had done it, his grip lost its intensity and though it still remained firm, he loosened his hold greatly.’
      • ‘Chris, who was still holding onto his best friend, gave me a questionable look before loosening his grip.’
      • ‘Bandit loosened his grip, relaxing his arms until his hold on her turned into a real embrace.’
      • ‘Anna expelled a breath of relief which served to loosen her muscles and help her to relax.’
      become slack, slacken, become loose, let go, unbind, ease
      weaken, relax, slacken, loose, lessen, reduce, moderate, diminish, soften, alleviate, dilute
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    2. 1.2no object Become relaxed or less tight.
      ‘the stiffness in his shoulders had loosened’
      • ‘Then, almost instantly, she let her shoulders drop and her body loosen, assuming a casual pose in the middle of the room.’
      • ‘I felt my shoulders loosen, a tension I hadn't been aware of leeching out of my limbs as I sagged and leaned back into the attention, letting her hand tilt my head as she needed.’
      • ‘Relax your shoulders by taking a deep breath and then focus on letting your shoulders drop and loosen.’
      • ‘The attachment device of the control cover will therefore not wear, and will not loosen over time.’
      • ‘Then, my shoulders loosened and my eyes looked grateful to the figure before me.’
      • ‘With vinyl windows, avoid frames that are held together with screws because they tend to loosen over time.’
      • ‘He waited for a reaction from her, watching as her back tensed and then loosen as her shoulders sagged.’
      • ‘He pulled me into a hug, and I could feel the muscles in his neck and shoulders loosen.’
      • ‘She held on and he squeezed harder, until she gasped in pain and her fingers loosened.’
      • ‘At the end of the holiday, I was starting to feel the knots in my shoulders loosen and my mind start to clear after all the drama and stress of the past few months.’
      • ‘He saw her shoulders loosen and her frown disappear.’
      • ‘I stretched, feeling my muscles slowly loosen.’
      • ‘Holding the paper she let her fingers loosen, and she dropped it.’
      • ‘Amy's shoulders loosened and Hart gently trod back to sit quietly by her side.’
      • ‘Her head rested on his shoulder and her body loosened.’
      relax, become relaxed, unwind, ease off, ease up, become less rigid
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    3. 1.3 (with reference to the bowels) make or become relaxed prior to excretion.
      no object ‘his bowels loosened in terror’
      • ‘Prescribe tablets that will loosen their bowel locks.’
      • ‘It's interesting how a year ago the very notion of smallpox made my bowels loosen; now I'm thinking about the proper approach the media should take.’
      • ‘High doses of vitamin C may loosen the bowels, though this effect invariably abates once the dose is suitably reduced.’
      • ‘‘Er, hi Corina’, I greeted her meekly, my bowels loosening slightly.’
      • ‘Often, the surging of hormones before and during the menstrual cycle can cause your bowels to loosen.’
  • 2Make less strict.

    ‘his main mistake was to loosen monetary policy’
    • ‘Local traffic authorities have maintained that the city is trying to loosen its policies regarding private car ownership.’
    • ‘There is currently no need for any further rate increases, but the Bank must resist the temptation to loosen monetary policy any further until it becomes clear that inflation has been tamed again.’
    • ‘Will this direct reporting be enough to loosen the strictures of centralization and create the accountability and openness that is needed?’
    • ‘As evident at the conference, both business circles and scholars are expecting the government to loosen the ‘no haste, be patient’ policy.’
    • ‘The loosening of that policy for terrorism does create a grey area, but it's a sensible political tactic.’
    • ‘In this respect, Britain is better placed than most, since base rates of 4.75% give the Bank of England ample leeway to loosen monetary policy.’
    • ‘The city's only gay nightclub, is currently loosening its entrance policy and opening up their doors to the straight public.’
    • ‘That reign only came to an end in the late 1960s as divorce laws loosened and Americans began pulling off their wedding rings at record rates.’
    • ‘However, the deals are a sign that the major music labels are increasingly loosening their licensing policies for digital music.’
    • ‘Instead of running more public-sector deficits and loosening monetary policy, there should be a radical overhaul of taxes.’
    • ‘The cost of borrowing has come down significantly with a loosening of monetary policy in the hope that injecting more cash into the economy would help revive struggling businesses.’
    • ‘The anticipated loosening of spending policy received mixed reaction from analysts Wednesday.’
    • ‘If the government simply adds to the deficit, inflation could be triggered by this further loosening of fiscal policy.’
    • ‘But the most problematic aspect of his plan has been his role in loosening the criteria for accepting monetary donations to the Institution.’
    • ‘And are they suggesting that a massive influx of asylum seekers would suddenly appear over the horizon if policy were loosened?’
    • ‘It is clear that the present Governor loosened monetary policy earlier than his predecessor would have done.’
    • ‘Indeed, many economies have found themselves having to tighten, rather than loosen, fiscal policy in response to economic slowdown.’
    • ‘It will tighten regulation in some countries but loosen it in others that previously had stricter laws.’
    • ‘Strong regulations that limited overtime in northern continental Europe are being loosened in response to EU policy.’
    • ‘According to her, the government's decision to loosen rice import policies had reduced the prices of unhusked rice.’
    1. 2.1 Make (a connection) less strong.
      ‘he wanted to strengthen rather than loosen union links’
      • ‘Partisan politicization loosens the connection of the military to the American people.’
      • ‘There are alternative actions which we in the North may demand of our governments in lieu of invasion, and these all tend towards loosening, rather than strengthening, the grip of empire over the South.’
      • ‘He provides an account of racial discrimination that loosens the link between it and injustice, but still preserves some connection.’
      • ‘Globalization socially and culturally at very practical levels relativizes national identities and loosens the links between the individual self and nation.’
      • ‘This loosens the link between creditor and borrower.’
      • ‘He was on the French interministerial committee that eventually rejected confederation as likely to loosen political links between France and the new states.’
      • ‘No lasting foundations for bilateral cooperation and the presence of disputes resulting from this loss of common ground loosen trade links between the states.’
      • ‘She wants to reform the stagnant economy, loosen union power and bring down taxes in a power-sharing Cabinet with the business-friendly FDP party.’
      • ‘Without the basic repair capacity and priority, a specific induction can wait, loosening the link between the operating command and depot-level maintenance costs.’
      • ‘The connection between signifier and signified is loosened and exposed as arbitrary, allowing for alternative interpretations of the sense.’
      • ‘How would you link his notion of the time-image, with its loosening of the sensory-motor connection, to the jazz-image?’
      • ‘Interest groups are reluctant to associate closely or openly with political parties, and the Labour party's connections with the trade unions have been loosened.’


  • loosen someone's tongue

    • Make someone talk freely.

      ‘three quarters of a bottle of wine had loosened her tongue’
      • ‘I felt sleepy and relaxed now, and that loosened my tongue and my senses.’
      • ‘The confrontation, however, seemed to have loosened Katrina 's tongue.’
      • ‘I guess being tired sort of loosened my tongue, because I replied, ‘She left me last night.’’
      • ‘All he needed was a few tots of spirits to loosen his tongue and tell one of his adventures, some pleasant, others tragic.’
      • ‘He was slightly drunk and perhaps realised that the alcohol had loosened his tongue a little too much.’
      • ‘We'll just have to give you something that will loosen your tongue.’
      • ‘The wine loosens his tongue and he begins to boast of his conquests of women at shady resorts.’
      • ‘He pre-empts the question with an invitation to his office ‘for a glass ‘, and the red wine dispensed liberally by his trusted assistant, Adrian, soon loosens his tongue.’’
      • ‘Apparently, it does not take much to loosen your tongue.’
      • ‘Perhaps his impending retirement loosened his tongue.’

Phrasal Verbs

  • loosen up

    • 1Relax one's muscles before taking exercise.

      ‘arrive early to loosen up and hit some practice shots’
      • ‘While almost everyone else on the team is getting pounded through the course of a game, the kicker wanders the sideline in a clean uniform, occasionally loosening up by kicking balls into a net.’
      • ‘With no practice swings or loosening up the Fulford ace let fly, despite being racked by pain in his neck and shoulders.’
      • ‘First classes were for beginners and those present were introduced to the foundation exercises to allow body muscles to loosen up.’
      • ‘There he is, at the end of the runway, preparing, psyching, wobbling thighs, flexing fingers, loosening up, imagining his jump, imaging he's going to jump right out of the stadium.’
      • ‘Precede your weight training with a light whole-body cardio warm-up as usual, and do some light sets of the first exercise to loosen up your muscles.’
      • ‘She took a few steps away from the others and then started doing a few exercises to loosen up her cramped muscles.’
      • ‘Stretching should always precede any form of exercise in order to warm and loosen up the muscles and to avoid injury.’
      • ‘Since the practice was held in Dalkey, a little less than 2 miles from the house, I decided to run there so I could loosen up and relax a bit.’
      • ‘When she got up out of bed and did some get exercising to loosen up, she started to get ready for the council that afternoon.’
      • ‘While the rest of the Connecticut players merely loosen up, stretching the muscles used on their jump shots, Brown instantly goes to work.’
      • ‘The dancers and musicians loosened up for their collaboration through exercises such as call-and-response sessions, in which a musician would improvise a phrase and a dancer would respond with movement.’
      • ‘When you see a golfer taking a practice swing they are not just loosening up, they are telling their subconscious what they want to happen.’
      1. 1.1Become mentally relaxed.
        ‘they taught me to have fun and loosen up’
        • ‘This time, he turned his back on his usual references, loosened up and had great fun with colour and pattern.’
        • ‘He just wants everything to be perfect, and while there's nothing inherently wrong with this meglomaniacal edge, sometimes you wish he was able to loosen up a little and enjoy the show like everyone else.’
        • ‘Breathing and bonding exercises follow and as we all got to know each other, loosening up in the Greek heat, we risk the sort of gentle ribaldry and wicked banter that rapidly promotes friendships and constant hilarity.’
        • ‘‘She really loosens up then,’ says her husband smiling as he recalls the stress-free existence they enjoy away from athletics.’
        • ‘He has been guarded and cautious in his tactics and his dealings with the press so far but perhaps next season, if he has graduated with honours, he will loosen up and begin to show how much he is enjoying life in Scotland.’
        • ‘She lacks her gift for self-deprecating comedy and she needs to loosen up on screen but she has an engaging manner.’
        • ‘‘People assume they're loosening up because they're drinking alcohol,’ he says.’
        • ‘Yet after he's got used to addressing 10,000 people he loosens up and gets right back into his lovable ‘isn't everything great?’’
        • ‘In fact, he seems to have loosened up, as if he has less to prove.’
        • ‘As more drinks are consumed, I begin to loosen up.’
        • ‘But as the gig progressed he seemed to loosen up a bit and started making eye contact with audience members, and he flashed a few smiles in various directions.’
        • ‘After a couple of pints we began to loosen up and we had a great night talking rubbish and joking and laughing.’
        • ‘I loosened up a little and settled back into the chair.’
        • ‘He seemed quite nervous at first, but loosened up as the gig progressed.’
        • ‘As a blogger, I'd like to see him loosen up a bit: a few more shorter, less self-consciously ‘important’ pieces wouldn't go amiss.’
        • ‘Gawky and terrified during her first attempt to dance, she gradually began to loosen up.’
        • ‘If people do agree to be interviewed, they usually do so in a co-operative way and loosen up after initial anxiety about the microphone.’
        • ‘I had loosened up a bit too and started chatting a lot more freely to more of the other guys.’
        • ‘Golf is a game especially suited to loosening up, calming down and enjoying the company of friends in a leisurely landscape.’
        • ‘‘Come on, George, loosen up,’ he wrote, ‘swing man… be grateful, stop complaining.’’
        relax, become relaxed, unwind, ease off, ease up, become less rigid
        View synonyms