Definition of relax in English:



  • 1Make or become less tense or anxious.

    [no object] ‘he relaxed and smiled confidently’
    ‘a relaxing holiday’
    • ‘She shuddered under me; tensing and relaxing, again and again.’
    • ‘However, there are times when a vacation is much more relaxing and comfortable when it can be completed in a makeshift home environment.’
    • ‘His reassuring smile relaxed me as I hurried to my first class seat and settled in for the flight.’
    • ‘The slow, fluid movements help tense, stressed people relax and strengthen their bodies without worrying about over-exertion or strain.’
    • ‘Unprepared, I tensed, then relaxed against him, reminding myself that this was acceptable now.’
    • ‘Somehow he made my tense body relax some, I don't know how, but it was soothing.’
    • ‘He looked truly happy and relaxed, and I smiled back weakly.’
    • ‘She smiled at me, friendly, and I relaxed - then tensed slightly, because the door was closing behind me.’
    • ‘My whole body was tensing and relaxing as my logical mind and instincts fought against each other.’
    • ‘After a couple minutes, her tense body relaxed and she wiggled in the stretcher to get more comfortable.’
    • ‘He felt her tense and then relax back against him, allowing herself to take the comfort that he offered her.’
    • ‘The girl's eyelids flinched, as though she was dreaming, and she tensed up momentarily before relaxing and falling into a true sleep.’
    • ‘Whereas she's relatively calm and relaxed, he's tense and anxious.’
    • ‘While Leeds looked tense and nervous, City were confident and relaxed.’
    • ‘His body tensed but then relaxed as they both stepped though the portal.’
    • ‘The air was refreshing and Alex relaxed into the seat, stopping her fidgeting.’
    • ‘Something about that made me less tense, made me relax some.’
    • ‘Keep your neck and shoulders relaxed; don't tense them up as you roll your hips upward.’
    • ‘I saw her tense up slightly before relaxing and forcing a grin on her face.’
    • ‘Sam tensed, then relaxed, not responding, but not pulling back either.’
    1. 1.1[no object]Rest from work or engage in an enjoyable activity so as to become less tired or anxious.
      ‘the team relax with a lot of skiing’
      • ‘And, because of that freedom, time we shared as a family was much more relaxed and enjoyable.’
      • ‘Mrs Moulton said it was a nightmare and she could not relax or rest.’
      • ‘Located in the town centre with some wonderful views of the Wicklow Walk in the distance the seat was perfectly placed for those who take a rest, relax and watch the world go by!’
      • ‘Instead, take a walk or a quick jog, lift weights, take a hot shower to relax or do any activity you enjoy that will keep your mind off smokeless tobacco.’
      • ‘Teas will be served in the basement where friends and neighbours can relax and rest.’
      • ‘Learn and practise relaxation and breathing techniques, make more time to rest and relax, and ensure that you build leisure into your routine.’
      • ‘The main city of the Queensland state, Brisbane, is the perfect place to relax and have a rest.’
      • ‘The coffee shop was very busy where parents and children came to rest and relax and sample some home cooking.’
      • ‘When complete, you'll want to kick back, relax, and enjoy the rest of the summer.’
      • ‘He's going to go home, recuperate, rest and relax, and he'll be back on Monday, and he's looking forward to being here.’
      • ‘I thought you could come in, meet the rest of my team, and relax.’
      • ‘The game will resume in the Autumn and the players have a chance to rest and relax over the summer period.’
      • ‘I do three gigs a week; the best material I get is when I'm really tired and relaxed.’
      • ‘Do something to break up the hassles and stress of the school year with relaxing and fun activities.’
      • ‘It's essential to provide enough time for hard-working staff to rest, relax, and explore the area outside camp.’
      • ‘One wonders if he finds the time to relax or rest.’
      • ‘There will be plenty of free time to relax, enjoy Africa, get to know local people.’
      • ‘We took a break, for her to relax, center, rest and nurture herself.’
      • ‘A real chill place to relax and enjoy the lounge music mixes or a nice warmer before the trendy nightlife.’
      • ‘After buying dinner from the Mercat de la Boqueria, we return to the hostel and relax for the rest of the night.’
      calm, calm down, unwind, loosen up, make less tense, make less uptight, quieten, tranquillize, soothe, pacify, compose
      unwind, loosen up, ease off, ease up, let up, slow down, de-stress, unbend, rest, repose, put one's feet up, take it easy, take time off, take time out, slack off, be at leisure, take one's leisure, take one's ease, laze, luxuriate, do nothing, sit back, lounge, loll, slump, flop, idle, loaf, enjoy oneself, amuse oneself, play, entertain oneself
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    2. 1.2[with object]Cause (a limb or muscle) to become less rigid.
      ‘relax the leg by bringing the knee towards the chest’
      • ‘In the next few months Jacob will need to have a new leg brace cast and is in line for Botox injections to relax the muscles in his leg and hand.’
      • ‘When he lost control over his two-wheeler once, he relaxed his muscles.’
      • ‘It may slip back into the body when lying down or when the local muscles are relaxed.’
      • ‘The placenta produces large amounts of the hormone progesterone, which appropriately prevents the uterine smooth muscle from contracting, but also relaxes smooth muscle throughout the body.’
      • ‘Massage relieves muscular pains using pressure; acupuncture relaxes the muscles, inserting then manipulating needles using hands and heat.’
      • ‘In a stress-filled world with high morbidity, patients mob doctors and there is no time to relax the facial muscles.’
      • ‘It acts by relaxing the muscle in the airways and lets air in and out more easily.’
      • ‘It relaxes the muscles and joints while strengthening your body from within.’
      • ‘Many things may cause a child to be unable to relax their sphincter muscles when trying to urinate.’
      • ‘Relaxation techniques can help you withstand stress better and also help relax facial muscles and skin.’
      • ‘A nightly foot and lower leg massage not only relaxes the feet, it also helps promote restful sleep.’
      • ‘The treatment involves soft tissue work, relaxing the muscles and manipulating the neck and back.’
      • ‘When you have a leg cramp, relax the muscle through gentle massage, or heat the muscle with a warm towel or hot water bottle.’
      • ‘It relaxes the dorsal muscles and goes down to the lower back to alleviate the pain many feel after hours of sitting up and working on a computer.’
      • ‘Smoking relaxes the sphincter muscles, so makes acid reflux more likely.’
      • ‘It was still something that you used for improving your circulation and relaxing your muscles.’
      • ‘Chelsea frowns, but quickly relaxes her eyebrow muscles - not wanting to crack the clear facial mask.’
      • ‘After stretching my limbs as far as they could go, I completely relaxed my muscles, snuggled with my pillows and drifted back to sleep.’
      • ‘Penile smooth muscle is also relaxed by other agents.’
      • ‘The reason for that is that adrenalin will smooth or relax the muscles in the lungs.’
      loosen, loose, slacken, unclench, weaken, lessen, let up, reduce, diminish
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    3. 1.3[with object]Make (something) less firm or tight.
      ‘Cicely relaxed her hold’
      • ‘I try to relax my eyes but, each time I do, they start to close.’
      • ‘But my finger was tight on the trigger, and it hurt as I relaxed it.’
      • ‘I could tell my shoulders dropped from being in a harsh, and ready-to-attack position to a more relaxed position.’
      • ‘You let your hand stay there and then the snake relaxes his teeth and you can remove it out of his mouth.’
      • ‘He clenched the wheel tighter, then relaxed his grip, thinking that maybe, just maybe Ellie would catch on.’
      • ‘Her attacker eventually relaxed his grip but continued to pummel her face, police said.’
      • ‘She was not aware of her own tight stance and did not bother to relax it.’
      • ‘Piper immediately bolted upright from her more relaxed position.’
      • ‘She relaxed her hold on the belay line and began slowly feeling with her foot for the ladder behind her.’
      • ‘Matty relaxed her position and leaned forward against the desk.’
      loosen, loose, slacken, unclench, weaken, lessen, let up, reduce, diminish
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    4. 1.4[with object]Straighten or partially uncurl (hair) using a chemical product.
      • ‘If your hair has been permed or relaxed, color has to be applied carefully or it can weaken the structure of your hair.’
      • ‘Also, hair that is relaxed, straightened, or permanently dyed is more porous than natural hair.’
      • ‘Do your homework completely before you decide to have your hair chemically straightened or relaxed.’
      • ‘When I was in seventh grade, my older sister, who also has curly hair, got her hair chemically relaxed.’
      • ‘Would you also tell black people they cannot relax their hair?’
      • ‘Gel ingredients work well on virgin, waved, curled, relaxed, and textured hair in the long run.’
  • 2[with object] Make (a rule or restriction) less strict.

    ‘the ministry relaxed some of the restrictions’
    • ‘Largely foreigners, these newcomers flooded in after the U.S. relaxed its immigration quotas in 1965.’
    • ‘Some restrictions may be relaxed soon, he says - but it won't be much.’
    • ‘We weren't allowed to do it before because of the deficit, now they have relaxed the rules so we can still go for it.’
    • ‘Since access restrictions have been relaxed its farm conservation team has been giving free advice to farmers whose livestock was culled during last year's outbreak.’
    • ‘So this Saturday restrictions are being relaxed to Level 2.’
    • ‘The government is relaxing its iron-fisted control of the economy.’
    • ‘If the rules were relaxed, the power of the symbol would be devalued.’
    • ‘That courtesy was a necessary formality also in the United States, but customs have relaxed a bit in practice.’
    • ‘This has led to some suggestions that the accounting firm may have adopted a more relaxed attitude on the audit side in order to keep the consulting fees rolling in.’
    • ‘Typically, these exclusions have allowed forest managers to relax the reviews when they want to fix a trail or structure.’
    • ‘Not only do attitudes need to change, but the regulatory restrictions could be considerably relaxed.’
    • ‘Because of this study, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has decided against relaxing some protections against manatees.’
    • ‘Some time ago, the government relaxed the rules on import of cars.’
    • ‘The Church of England relaxed its rule that women must wear hats in church.’
    • ‘If the U.S. administration relaxes its export control against China, its exports would be effectively boosted.’
    • ‘The Pensions Board is to consider relaxing the rules governing pension fund solvency in the case of its 2,000 Defined Benefit Schemes.’
    • ‘The rules were relaxed slightly a decade ago when wives and other female guests were allocated six seats in the games room where they were permitted to sit.’
    • ‘Still, Congress relaxed the embargo recently to allow trade in food and medicines, and a new day may be coming.’
    • ‘The programme has recently relaxed a rule stopping previous winners from a second appearance and wrote to him asking if he would like to come on again.’
    • ‘And we did relax the school attendance for a couple days, but then they were all back.’
    moderate, modify, temper, make less formal, make less strict, ease, ease up on, loosen, lessen, lighten, slacken
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Late Middle English: from Latin relaxare, from re- (expressing intensive force) + laxus lax, loose.