Check out new words added to


[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
1350-1400; Middle English 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. 2015.
Cite This Source
Examples from the web for loosen
  • The robotic tuning machines jump into action, whirring and spinning as they tighten or loosen the strings to your specifications.
  • Bolts on the saws can loosen and the blade could detach, posing a risk of lacerations to consumers.
  • No amount of twisting or tugging would loosen its grip on his foot.
  • The machines doing the grunt work loosen the dust and send it airborne where workers can breathe it in copiously.
  • One thing the government could do is loosen up the screws on medical marijuana use.
  • The steam can then be used to turn a turbine and produce electricity or, in this case, pumped down a well to loosen heavy oils.
  • Hold the outside wire of the tangle and try to pull to loosen it.
  • Stores loosen policies to make it easier to return holiday gifts.
  • If feet swell, drink lots of fluids, loosen boot laces and elevate feet.
  • loosen cake from pan with a slender spatula, then invert onto a rack.
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
Cite This Source
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
Cite This Source

Word of the Day

Difficulty index for loosen

Most English speakers likely know this word

Word Value for loosen

Scrabble Words With Friends

Quotes with loosen

Nearby words for loosen