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’
    • ‘I watched him loosen his collar, and walk over to a stool where his violin case was, open.’
    • ‘She shook her head, before reaching up and loosening her hair free of its holder.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘The officer swallowed and loosened his collar slightly.’
    • ‘He loosened his tie and unbuttoned the first two buttons of his shirt.’
    • ‘If the training collar is too tight, the pressure will not be relieved when you loosen the leash.’
    • ‘My brain slowly began to click into gear and I started thinking about loosening his collar and laying him down.’
    • ‘One should cushion the fall, cradle the head, remove glasses, and loosen tight clothes.’
    • ‘Next, he loosened the collar of his white dress shirt.’
    • ‘I was unable to loosen the tight wire, it was probably a pliant clothing hanger.’
    • ‘‘Okay, okay,’ gasped John, loosening his collar so he could get a better breath.’
    • ‘He puts down his briefcase, loosens his collar and falls into his leather chair.’
    • ‘The girl to our right, in complementary pinks and peach colors, lifts her face as she loosens the tight black collar around her neck.’
    • ‘His fingers threaded through her tight chignon and loosened it.’
    • ‘He was reaching up to loosen the collar of his shirt when he noticed his mother and younger sibling coming down the stairs.’
    • ‘To balance the tension, loosen the tightest thread first’
    • ‘He loosened his tie and undid the first button of his collar so he wouldn't suffocate.’
    • ‘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.’
    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’
      • ‘If the government simply adds to the deficit, inflation could be triggered by this further loosening of fiscal policy.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘According to her, the government's decision to loosen rice import policies had reduced the prices of unhusked rice.’
      • ‘Instead of running more public-sector deficits and loosening monetary policy, there should be a radical overhaul of taxes.’
      • ‘It will tighten regulation in some countries but loosen it in others that previously had stricter laws.’
      • ‘However, the deals are a sign that the major music labels are increasingly loosening their licensing policies for digital music.’
      • ‘Indeed, many economies have found themselves having to tighten, rather than loosen, fiscal policy in response to economic slowdown.’
      • ‘The city's only gay nightclub, is currently loosening its entrance policy and opening up their doors to the straight public.’
      • ‘The loosening of that policy for terrorism does create a grey area, but it's a sensible political tactic.’
      • ‘The anticipated loosening of spending policy received mixed reaction from analysts Wednesday.’
      • ‘Strong regulations that limited overtime in northern continental Europe are being loosened in response to EU policy.’
      • ‘Will this direct reporting be enough to loosen the strictures of centralization and create the accountability and openness that is needed?’
      • ‘But the most problematic aspect of his plan has been his role in loosening the criteria for accepting monetary donations to the Institution.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘And are they suggesting that a massive influx of asylum seekers would suddenly appear over the horizon if policy were loosened?’
      • ‘Local traffic authorities have maintained that the city is trying to loosen its policies regarding private car ownership.’
      • ‘It is clear that the present Governor loosened monetary policy earlier than his predecessor would have done.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘As evident at the conference, both business circles and scholars are expecting the government to loosen the ‘no haste, be patient’ policy.’
    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.’
      • ‘Aerobic exercise helps to loosen tense muscles.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Yoga and breathing exercises help in getting rid of the spasm by loosening the muscles and maintaining balance of ‘prana’ throughout the body.’
      • ‘Bandit loosened his grip, relaxing his arms until his hold on her turned into a real embrace.’
      • ‘Lifeguards flushed the shark's gills with fresh water to loosen its grip.’
      • ‘He, in turn, loosened his grip and moved his hands to my hips.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘When muscles are loosened and the circulation is good, good health will prevail and there will inevitably be less chance of any disfunction.’
      • ‘She loosened her grip and kissed the top of his head.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Expression blank and thoughts and emotions carefully controlled, she loosened her tight hold upon her fan.’
      • ‘Having a stretch loosens your muscles and relaxes your body.’
      • ‘Lucas only hung his head and loosened his grip on the pole in response.’
      • ‘Emma immediately relaxed and loosened her grip on my leg.’
      • ‘Instead, he adopted a confused look and loosened his grip.’
      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’
      • ‘Her head rested on his shoulder and her body loosened.’
      • ‘Relax your shoulders by taking a deep breath and then focus on letting your shoulders drop and loosen.’
      • ‘Amy's shoulders loosened and Hart gently trod back to sit quietly by her side.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘I stretched, feeling my muscles slowly loosen.’
      • ‘She held on and he squeezed harder, until she gasped in pain and her fingers loosened.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘He pulled me into a hug, and I could feel the muscles in his neck and shoulders loosen.’
      • ‘With vinyl windows, avoid frames that are held together with screws because they tend to loosen over time.’
      • ‘Then, my shoulders loosened and my eyes looked grateful to the figure before me.’
      • ‘He waited for a reaction from her, watching as her back tensed and then loosen as her shoulders sagged.’
      • ‘Then, almost instantly, she let her shoulders drop and her body loosen, assuming a casual pose in the middle of the room.’
      • ‘Holding the paper she let her fingers loosen, and she dropped it.’
      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’
      • ‘Partisan politicization loosens the connection of the military to the American people.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘He was on the French interministerial committee that eventually rejected confederation as likely to loosen political links between France and the new states.’
      • ‘Without the basic repair capacity and priority, a specific induction can wait, loosening the link between the operating command and depot-level maintenance costs.’
      • ‘How would you link his notion of the time-image, with its loosening of the sensory-motor connection, to the jazz-image?’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘This loosens the link between creditor and borrower.’
      • ‘No lasting foundations for bilateral cooperation and the presence of disputes resulting from this loss of common ground loosen trade links between the states.’
      • ‘The connection between signifier and signified is loosened and exposed as arbitrary, allowing for alternative interpretations of the sense.’
      • ‘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.’
    5. 1.5 (with reference to the bowels) make or become relaxed before 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.’
      • ‘Often, the surging of hormones before and during the menstrual cycle can cause your bowels to loosen.’
      • ‘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.’

Phrases

  • loosen someone's tongue

    • Make someone talk freely.

      • ‘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.’’
      • ‘Perhaps his impending retirement loosened his tongue.’
      • ‘The wine loosens his tongue and he begins to boast of his conquests of women at shady resorts.’
      • ‘Apparently, it does not take much to loosen your tongue.’
      • ‘The confrontation, however, seemed to have loosened Katrina 's tongue.’
      • ‘We'll just have to give you something that will loosen your tongue.’
      • ‘I felt sleepy and relaxed now, and that loosened my tongue and my senses.’
      • ‘He was slightly drunk and perhaps realised that the alcohol had loosened his tongue a little too much.’
      • ‘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.’

Phrasal Verbs

  • loosen up

    • 1Warm up in preparation for an activity.

      ‘arrive early to loosen up and hit some practice shots’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Stretching should always precede any form of exercise in order to warm and loosen up the muscles and to avoid injury.’
      • ‘First classes were for beginners and those present were introduced to the foundation exercises to allow body muscles to loosen up.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘With no practice swings or loosening up the Fulford ace let fly, despite being racked by pain in his neck and shoulders.’
      • ‘She took a few steps away from the others and then started doing a few exercises to loosen up her cramped muscles.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘While the rest of the Connecticut players merely loosen up, stretching the muscles used on their jump shots, Brown instantly goes to work.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      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/