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90s Slang You Should Know


[loo-suh n] /ˈlu sən/
verb (used with object)
to unfasten or undo, as a bond or fetter.
to make less tight; slacken or relax:
to loosen one's grasp.
to make less firmly fixed in place:
to loosen a tooth.
to let loose or set free from bonds, restraint, or constraint.
to make less close or compact in structure or arrangement.
to make less dense or coherent:
to loosen the soil in a garden.
to relax in strictness or severity, as restraint or discipline:
to loosen restrictions on trade.
to relieve (the bowels) of their constipated condition.
verb (used without object)
to become loose or looser (sometimes followed by up):
His hold loosened. Your shoes will loosen up with wear.
Origin of loosen
First recorded in 1350-1400, loosen is from the Middle English word loosnen. See loose, -en1
Related forms
loosener, noun
Can be confused
loose, loosen, lose, loss. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for loosen
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • This softens the corn to such a degree, as to loosen and wholly remove it in two or three days.

    The Toilet of Flora Pierre-Joseph Buc'hoz
  • First, it may be a rock, which has to be blasted in order to loosen it.

    Diggers in the Earth Eva March Tappan
  • Before that happens, though, push the rope in that hole a little to loosen it so I can catch hold of the stick with the parasol.

    The Secret of Casa Grande Helen Randolph
  • But it had to loosen coil after coil of the coils it makes around the world.

    The Children of Odin Padraic Colum
  • I am obliged to excavate a language—to loosen up its materials, then hoist them with a derrick.

    The Car That Went Abroad Albert Bigelow Paine
British Dictionary definitions for loosen


to make or become less tight, fixed, etc
(often foll by up) to make or become less firm, compact, or rigid
(transitive) to untie
(transitive) to let loose; set free
(often foll by up) to make or become less strict, severe, etc
(transitive) to rid or relieve (the bowels) of constipation
Derived Forms
loosener, noun
Word Origin
C14: from loose
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for loosen

late 14c., losnen, later lousen (early 15c.), from loose (v.) + -en (1). Related: Loosened; loosening.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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