Definition of loosen in US English:

loosen

verb

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

    ‘loosen your collar and tie’
    • ‘The girl to our right, in complementary pinks and peach colors, lifts her face as she loosens the tight black collar around her neck.’
    • ‘He was reaching up to loosen the collar of his shirt when he noticed his mother and younger sibling coming down the stairs.’
    • ‘He loosened his tie and undid the first button of his collar so he wouldn't suffocate.’
    • ‘‘Okay, okay,’ gasped John, loosening his collar so he could get a better breath.’
    • ‘I watched him loosen his collar, and walk over to a stool where his violin case was, open.’
    • ‘I was unable to loosen the tight wire, it was probably a pliant clothing hanger.’
    • ‘His fingers threaded through her tight chignon and loosened it.’
    • ‘My brain slowly began to click into gear and I started thinking about loosening his collar and laying him down.’
    • ‘Next, he loosened the collar of his white dress shirt.’
    • ‘One should cushion the fall, cradle the head, remove glasses, and loosen tight clothes.’
    • ‘The officer swallowed and loosened his collar slightly.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘He puts down his briefcase, loosens his collar and falls into his leather chair.’
    • ‘He loosened his tie and unbuttoned the first two buttons of his shirt.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘With a last look that the door and windows were shuttered tight, I loosened my shirt.’
    • ‘‘Uh, thanks,’ Bella mumbled, trying to loosen her dress because it suddenly felt tight.’
    • ‘She shook her head in acknowledgment, and went to Glory, loosening the tied reins.’
    • ‘To balance the tension, loosen the tightest thread first’
    make slack, slacken, slack, unstick
    unfasten, undo, release, unhook, slacken, let out
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1 Make more lax.
      ‘his main mistake was to loosen monetary policy’
      ‘a loosening of the benefit rules’
      • ‘According to her, the government's decision to loosen rice import policies had reduced the prices of unhusked rice.’
      • ‘If the government simply adds to the deficit, inflation could be triggered by this further loosening of fiscal policy.’
      • ‘It is clear that the present Governor loosened monetary policy earlier than his predecessor would have done.’
      • ‘The city's only gay nightclub, is currently loosening its entrance policy and opening up their doors to the straight public.’
      • ‘The anticipated loosening of spending policy received mixed reaction from analysts Wednesday.’
      • ‘Instead of running more public-sector deficits and loosening monetary policy, there should be a radical overhaul of taxes.’
      • ‘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 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.’
      • ‘And are they suggesting that a massive influx of asylum seekers would suddenly appear over the horizon if policy were loosened?’
      • ‘It will tighten regulation in some countries but loosen it in others that previously had stricter laws.’
      • ‘But the most problematic aspect of his plan has been his role in loosening the criteria for accepting monetary donations to the Institution.’
      • ‘The loosening of that policy for terrorism does create a grey area, but it's a sensible political tactic.’
      • ‘However, the deals are a sign that the major music labels are increasingly loosening their licensing policies for digital music.’
      • ‘Strong regulations that limited overtime in northern continental Europe are being loosened in response to EU policy.’
      • ‘As evident at the conference, both business circles and scholars are expecting the government to loosen the ‘no haste, be patient’ policy.’
      • ‘Indeed, many economies have found themselves having to tighten, rather than loosen, fiscal policy in response to economic slowdown.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Local traffic authorities have maintained that the city is trying to loosen its policies regarding private car ownership.’
      • ‘Will this direct reporting be enough to loosen the strictures of centralization and create the accountability and openness that is needed?’
      • ‘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.’
    2. 1.2 Relax (one's grip or muscles)
      ‘he loosened his hold so she could pull her arms free’
      • ‘Chris, who was still holding onto his best friend, gave me a questionable look before loosening his grip.’
      • ‘Lucas only hung his head and loosened his grip on the pole in response.’
      • ‘Aerobic exercise helps to loosen tense muscles.’
      • ‘When muscles are loosened and the circulation is good, good health will prevail and there will inevitably be less chance of any disfunction.’
      • ‘He loosened his grip and turned me around to sit on the bed.’
      • ‘‘Ok,’ Amber replied, stepping back and loosening her grip on him before letting go completely.’
      • ‘Bandit loosened his grip, relaxing his arms until his hold on her turned into a real embrace.’
      • ‘She loosened her grip and kissed the top of his head.’
      • ‘He, in turn, loosened his grip and moved his hands to my hips.’
      • ‘Yoga and breathing exercises help in getting rid of the spasm by loosening the muscles and maintaining balance of ‘prana’ throughout the body.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘That had done it, his grip lost its intensity and though it still remained firm, he loosened his hold greatly.’
      • ‘Anna expelled a breath of relief which served to loosen her muscles and help her to relax.’
      • ‘He turned to her without loosening his grip around her petite figure and displayed a mischievous grin.’
      • ‘Lifeguards flushed the shark's gills with fresh water to loosen its grip.’
      • ‘Emma immediately relaxed and loosened her grip on my leg.’
      • ‘Instead, he adopted a confused look and loosened his grip.’
      • ‘Expression blank and thoughts and emotions carefully controlled, she loosened her tight hold upon her fan.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Having a stretch loosens your muscles and relaxes your body.’
      become slack, slacken, become loose, let go, unbind, ease
      weaken, relax, slacken, loose, lessen, reduce, moderate, diminish, soften, alleviate, dilute
      View synonyms
    3. 1.3no object Become relaxed or less tight.
      ‘the stiffness in his shoulders had 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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘He saw her shoulders loosen and her frown disappear.’
      • ‘She held on and he squeezed harder, until she gasped in pain and her fingers loosened.’
      • ‘I stretched, feeling my muscles slowly loosen.’
      • ‘Then, my shoulders loosened and my eyes looked grateful to the figure before me.’
      • ‘Holding the paper she let her fingers loosen, and she dropped it.’
      • ‘He waited for a reaction from her, watching as her back tensed and then loosen as her shoulders sagged.’
      • ‘With vinyl windows, avoid frames that are held together with screws because they tend to loosen over time.’
      • ‘Her head rested on his shoulder and her body loosened.’
      • ‘Then, almost instantly, she let her shoulders drop and her body loosen, assuming a casual pose in the middle of the room.’
      • ‘Amy's shoulders loosened and Hart gently trod back to sit quietly by her side.’
      • ‘He pulled me into a hug, and I could feel the muscles in his neck and shoulders loosen.’
      relax, become relaxed, unwind, ease off, ease up, become less rigid
      View synonyms
    4. 1.4 Make (a connection or relationship) less strong.
      ‘he wanted to strengthen rather than loosen union links’
      • ‘Globalization socially and culturally at very practical levels relativizes national identities and loosens the links between the individual self and nation.’
      • ‘Partisan politicization loosens the connection of the military to the American people.’
      • ‘This loosens the link between creditor and borrower.’
      • ‘Without the basic repair capacity and priority, a specific induction can wait, loosening the link between the operating command and depot-level maintenance costs.’
      • ‘He provides an account of racial discrimination that loosens the link between it and injustice, but still preserves some connection.’
      • ‘The connection between signifier and signified is loosened and exposed as arbitrary, allowing for alternative interpretations of the sense.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘How would you link his notion of the time-image, with its loosening of the sensory-motor connection, to the jazz-image?’
      • ‘He was on the French interministerial committee that eventually rejected confederation as likely to loosen political links between France and the new states.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘No lasting foundations for bilateral cooperation and the presence of disputes resulting from this loss of common ground loosen trade links between the states.’
    5. 1.5 (with reference to the bowels) make or become relaxed before excretion.
      no object ‘his bowels loosened in terror’
      • ‘Often, the surging of hormones before and during the menstrual cycle can cause your bowels to loosen.’
      • ‘‘Er, hi Corina’, I greeted her meekly, my bowels loosening slightly.’
      • ‘High doses of vitamin C may loosen the bowels, though this effect invariably abates once the dose is suitably reduced.’
      • ‘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.’

Phrases

  • loosen someone's tongue

    • Make someone talk freely.

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

Phrasal Verbs

  • loosen up

    • 1Warm up in preparation for an activity.

      ‘arrive early to loosen up and hit some practice shots’
      • ‘She took a few steps away from the others and then started doing a few exercises to loosen up her cramped muscles.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘While the rest of the Connecticut players merely loosen up, stretching the muscles used on their jump shots, Brown instantly goes to work.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘First classes were for beginners and those present were introduced to the foundation exercises to allow body muscles to loosen up.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘With no practice swings or loosening up the Fulford ace let fly, despite being racked by pain in his neck and shoulders.’
      • ‘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.’
      1. 1.1Make or become relaxed.
        ‘they taught me to have fun at work and loosen up’
        ‘the beer is loosening him up’
        • ‘It's nice loosening up and being able to say what you really feel.’
        • ‘The crowd really loosened up once the headliner took the stage.’

Pronunciation

loosen

/ˈlo͞os(ə)n//ˈlus(ə)n/