[ri-laks] ,
verb (used with object)
to make less tense, rigid, or firm; make lax: to relax the muscles.
to diminish the force of.
to slacken or abate, as effort, attention, etc.
to make less strict or severe, as rules, discipline, etc.: to relax the requirements for a license.
to release or bring relief from the effects of tension, anxiety, etc.: A short swim always relaxes me.
verb (used without object)
to become less tense, rigid, or firm.
to become less strict or severe; grow milder.
to reduce or stop work, effort, application, etc., especially for the sake of rest or recreation.
to release oneself from inhibition, worry, tension, etc.

1350–1400; Middle English relaxen < Latin relaxāre to stretch out again, loosen, equivalent to re- re- + laxāre to loosen, derivative of laxus slack, lax

relaxative, relaxatory [ri-lak-suh-tawr-ee, -tohr-ee] , adjective
relaxer, noun
overrelax, verb
unrelaxing, adjective

1, 6. loosen, slacken. 2. mitigate, weaken, lessen, reduce. 4. ease. 6. unbend. 7. relent, soften.

1, 6. tighten, tense. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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World English Dictionary
relax (rɪˈlæks)
1.  to make (muscles, a grip, etc) less tense or rigid or (of muscles, a grip, etc) to become looser or less rigid
2.  (intr) to take rest or recreation, as from work or effort: on Sundays, she just relaxes; she relaxes by playing golf
3.  to lessen the force of (effort, concentration, etc) or (of effort) to become diminished
4.  to make (rules or discipline) less rigid or strict or (of rules, etc) to diminish in severity
5.  (intr) (of a person) to become less formal; unbend
[C15: from Latin relaxāre to loosen, from re- + laxāre to loosen, from laxus loose, lax]

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009
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Word Origin & History

c.1420, "to make (something) less compact or dense," from O.Fr. relaxer (14c.), from L. relaxare "relax, loosen, open," from re- "back" + laxare "loosen," from laxus "loose" (see lax). Of persons, attested from 1837, "to become less formal;" meaning "to become less tense" is
recorded from 1935. Relaxation "relief from work" first recorded 1548.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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American Heritage
Medical Dictionary

relax re·lax (rĭ-lāks')
v. re·laxed, re·lax·ing, re·lax·es

  1. To make or become lax or loose.

  2. To relieve or become relieved from tension or strain.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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Example sentences
Only at traffic intersections did he straighten himself, relax, and ease back into his seat.
The commission proposes to relax planning constraints on big new stores.
They give us a way to celebrate, explore, and relax.
It is often prescribed to relax cerebral blood vessels after a stroke.
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