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[slak-uh n] /ˈslæk ən/
verb (used with or without object)
to make or become less active, vigorous, intense, etc.
to make or become looser or less taut.
Origin of slacken
First recorded in 1570-80; slack1 + -en1
Related forms
unslackened, adjective
unslackening, adjective
1, 2. relax, loosen, slack, abate.
2. tighten, tense. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for slacken
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • Nor did she slacken her pace as she drew near the house, she only ran more softly.

    Heather and Snow George MacDonald
  • The storm continued all day, but began to slacken in intensity at sunset.

    A Singer from the Sea Amelia Edith Huddleston Barr
  • Her death did not weaken my resolutions nor slacken my ardour.

    The Memoirs of Madame de Montespan, Complete Madame La Marquise De Montespan
  • The yachtsman, however, should not slacken them as for scudding.

    Boys' Book of Model Boats Raymond Francis Yates
  • Nor had the horses any desire to slacken their headlong rush.

  • Plainly he wished the two riders to pass on, but he did not slacken his speed for a moment.

    The Wild Geese Stanley John Weyman
  • You must put your stick deep into the snow to slacken the speed and guide your sleigh.

    The Land of the Long Night Paul du Chaillu
  • Failing this, it should at least slacken the pace of its work and shorten its working day.

  • We were gaining on him still, and the heat of the day made him slacken his pace.


    Henry Seton Merriman
British Dictionary definitions for slacken


verb (often foll by off)
to make or become looser
to make or become slower, less intense, etc
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 slacken

early 15c., from slack (adj.) + -en (1). Related: Slackened; slackening.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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