Definition of relax in English:



  • 1Make or become less tense or anxious.

    [no object] ‘he relaxed and smiled confidently’
    ‘a relaxing vacation’
    • ‘His reassuring smile relaxed me as I hurried to my first class seat and settled in for the flight.’
    • ‘He looked truly happy and relaxed, and I smiled back weakly.’
    • ‘He felt her tense and then relax back against him, allowing herself to take the comfort that he offered her.’
    • ‘The slow, fluid movements help tense, stressed people relax and strengthen their bodies without worrying about over-exertion or strain.’
    • ‘His body tensed but then relaxed as they both stepped though the portal.’
    • ‘The girl's eyelids flinched, as though she was dreaming, and she tensed up momentarily before relaxing and falling into a true sleep.’
    • ‘While Leeds looked tense and nervous, City were confident and relaxed.’
    • ‘My whole body was tensing and relaxing as my logical mind and instincts fought against each other.’
    • ‘Sam tensed, then relaxed, not responding, but not pulling back either.’
    • ‘Somehow he made my tense body relax some, I don't know how, but it was soothing.’
    • ‘After a couple minutes, her tense body relaxed and she wiggled in the stretcher to get more comfortable.’
    • ‘She shuddered under me; tensing and relaxing, again and again.’
    • ‘Something about that made me less tense, made me relax some.’
    • ‘The air was refreshing and Alex relaxed into the seat, stopping her fidgeting.’
    • ‘Keep your neck and shoulders relaxed; don't tense them up as you roll your hips upward.’
    • ‘Whereas she's relatively calm and relaxed, he's tense and anxious.’
    • ‘Unprepared, I tensed, then relaxed against him, reminding myself that this was acceptable now.’
    • ‘She smiled at me, friendly, and I relaxed - then tensed slightly, because the door was closing behind me.’
    • ‘However, there are times when a vacation is much more relaxing and comfortable when it can be completed in a makeshift home environment.’
    • ‘I saw her tense up slightly before relaxing and forcing a grin on her face.’
    1. 1.1[no object]Rest or engage in an enjoyable activity so as to become less tired or anxious.
      ‘the team relaxes with a lot of skiing’
      • ‘There will be plenty of free time to relax, enjoy Africa, get to know local people.’
      • ‘I thought you could come in, meet the rest of my team, and relax.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Mrs Moulton said it was a nightmare and she could not relax or rest.’
      • ‘Do something to break up the hassles and stress of the school year with relaxing and fun activities.’
      • ‘We took a break, for her to relax, center, rest and nurture herself.’
      • ‘Learn and practise relaxation and breathing techniques, make more time to rest and relax, and ensure that you build leisure into your routine.’
      • ‘And, because of that freedom, time we shared as a family was much more relaxed and enjoyable.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘The main city of the Queensland state, Brisbane, is the perfect place to relax and have a rest.’
      • ‘When complete, you'll want to kick back, relax, and enjoy the rest of the summer.’
      • ‘The game will resume in the Autumn and the players have a chance to rest and relax over the summer period.’
      • ‘Teas will be served in the basement where friends and neighbours can relax and rest.’
      • ‘After buying dinner from the Mercat de la Boqueria, we return to the hostel and relax for the rest of the night.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘The coffee shop was very busy where parents and children came to rest and relax and sample some home cooking.’
      • ‘A real chill place to relax and enjoy the lounge music mixes or a nice warmer before the trendy nightlife.’
      • ‘I do three gigs a week; the best material I get is when I'm really tired and relaxed.’
      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
      calm, calm down, unwind, loosen up, make less tense, make less uptight, quieten, tranquillize, soothe, pacify, compose
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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 toward the chest’
      • ‘It was still something that you used for improving your circulation and relaxing your muscles.’
      • ‘It relaxes the muscles and joints while strengthening your body from within.’
      • ‘After stretching my limbs as far as they could go, I completely relaxed my muscles, snuggled with my pillows and drifted back to sleep.’
      • ‘Relaxation techniques can help you withstand stress better and also help relax facial muscles and skin.’
      • ‘Chelsea frowns, but quickly relaxes her eyebrow muscles - not wanting to crack the clear facial mask.’
      • ‘It may slip back into the body when lying down or when the local muscles are relaxed.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘In a stress-filled world with high morbidity, patients mob doctors and there is no time to relax the facial muscles.’
      • ‘The reason for that is that adrenalin will smooth or relax the muscles in the lungs.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Many things may cause a child to be unable to relax their sphincter muscles when trying to urinate.’
      • ‘When he lost control over his two-wheeler once, he relaxed his muscles.’
      • ‘A nightly foot and lower leg massage not only relaxes the feet, it also helps promote restful sleep.’
      • ‘It acts by relaxing the muscle in the airways and lets air in and out more easily.’
      • ‘Smoking relaxes the sphincter muscles, so makes acid reflux more likely.’
      • ‘Massage relieves muscular pains using pressure; acupuncture relaxes the muscles, inserting then manipulating needles using hands and heat.’
      • ‘Penile smooth muscle is also relaxed by other agents.’
      • ‘The treatment involves soft tissue work, relaxing the muscles and manipulating the neck and back.’
      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’
      • ‘She was not aware of her own tight stance and did not bother to relax it.’
      • ‘But my finger was tight on the trigger, and it hurt as I relaxed it.’
      • ‘I try to relax my eyes but, each time I do, they start to close.’
      • ‘He clenched the wheel tighter, then relaxed his grip, thinking that maybe, just maybe Ellie would catch on.’
      • ‘Piper immediately bolted upright from her 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.’
      • ‘Her attacker eventually relaxed his grip but continued to pummel her face, police said.’
      • ‘Matty relaxed her position and leaned forward against the desk.’
      • ‘She relaxed her hold on the belay line and began slowly feeling with her foot for the ladder behind her.’
      • ‘I could tell my shoulders dropped from being in a harsh, and ready-to-attack position to a more relaxed position.’
      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.
      • ‘Do your homework completely before you decide to have your hair chemically straightened or relaxed.’
      • ‘Would you also tell black people they cannot relax their hair?’
      • ‘Also, hair that is relaxed, straightened, or permanently dyed is more porous than natural hair.’
      • ‘If your hair has been permed or relaxed, color has to be applied carefully or it can weaken the structure of your hair.’
      • ‘Gel ingredients work well on virgin, waved, curled, relaxed, and textured hair in the long run.’
      • ‘When I was in seventh grade, my older sister, who also has curly hair, got her hair chemically relaxed.’
  • 2[with object] Make (a rule or restriction) less strict while not abolishing it.

    ‘they persuaded the local authorities concerned to relax their restrictions’
    • ‘If the U.S. administration relaxes its export control against China, its exports would be effectively boosted.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘And we did relax the school attendance for a couple days, but then they were all back.’
    • ‘That courtesy was a necessary formality also in the United States, but customs have relaxed a bit in practice.’
    • ‘Largely foreigners, these newcomers flooded in after the U.S. relaxed its immigration quotas in 1965.’
    • ‘Typically, these exclusions have allowed forest managers to relax the reviews when they want to fix a trail or structure.’
    • ‘The government is relaxing its iron-fisted control of the economy.’
    • ‘Some time ago, the government relaxed the rules on import of cars.’
    • ‘Some restrictions may be relaxed soon, he says - but it won't be much.’
    • ‘Still, Congress relaxed the embargo recently to allow trade in food and medicines, and a new day may be coming.’
    • ‘So this Saturday restrictions are being relaxed to Level 2.’
    • ‘Because of this study, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has decided against relaxing some protections against manatees.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘The Pensions Board is to consider relaxing the rules governing pension fund solvency in the case of its 2,000 Defined Benefit Schemes.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘The Church of England relaxed its rule that women must wear hats in church.’
    • ‘If the rules were relaxed, the power of the symbol would be devalued.’
    • ‘Not only do attitudes need to change, but the regulatory restrictions could be considerably relaxed.’
    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.