- 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.
- to become loose or looser (sometimes followed by up): His hold loosened. Your shoes will loosen up with wear.
Origin of loosen
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018
Related Wordsslacken, relax, ease, loose, undo, unlock, untie, alleviate, unscrew, unloose, extricate, unclasp, unfasten, disconnect, unbuckle, separate, disjoin, deliver, free, discharge
Examples from the Web for loosen
Two years later, he had released all Soviet dissidents from prison and was beginning to loosen the reins on Soviet bloc countries.How the Fall of the Berlin Wall Radicalized Putin
November 9, 2014
Not even the knowledge gleaned from all the books in the world can loosen the grasp of human sadness.How Depression Could Save Your Life
March 4, 2014
Add a dash of milk to loosen, although you want the mixture thick.Cat Cora’s Valentine’s Day Menu for Single People
February 13, 2014
Past attempts to loosen the grip of taxi cartels have been thwarted by the industry.Uber and Its Enemies
February 10, 2014
Spurred by this success, Austin and Benedetto plan to loosen control over the guest list even more for future events.A Most Illegal Adventure with New York City’s Wildest Underground Event Planners
December 16, 2013
My arms have starved for you so—do you think they're going to loosen now?The Spenders
Harry Leon Wilson
He will prolong your life and loosen every button on your waistcoat.The Underdog
F. Hopkinson Smith
Then he sought to loosen the rings that held the coat of mail.Opera Stories from Wagner
Do not use a spoon, as that will not loosen the grains sufficiently.Directions for Cookery, in its Various Branches
He tried to loosen his neck-band; it seemed to be choking him.The Gentleman From Indiana
- to make or become less tight, fixed, etc
- (often foll by up) to make or become less firm, compact, or rigid
- (tr) to untie
- (tr) to let loose; set free
- (often foll by up) to make or become less strict, severe, etc
- (tr) to rid or relieve (the bowels) of constipation
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
Word Origin and History for loosen
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper