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[slak-uh n] /ˈslæk ən/
verb (used with object), verb (used without object)
to make or become less active, vigorous, intense, etc.
to make or become looser or less taut.
Origin of slacken
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. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for slacken
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • The bracing of sea-piers is very liable to slacken if made with pin-and-eye ends, as is often done for round rods.

    The Anatomy of Bridgework William Henry Thorpe
  • But it was no easy matter to get Colomba to slacken her grasp.

    Columba Prosper Merimee
  • It was no disgrace to be a servant, provided you were a good servant and did not slacken on the job.

    The Story of Mankind Hendrik Van Loon
  • The going was rough, but they could not afford to slacken speed.

    Crooked Trails and Straight William MacLeod Raine
  • Now, (p. 038) all of a sudden, things become lively, and do not slacken again until the finish.

  • To slacken a ship's way, so as to suffer another one to pass beyond her.

    The Sailor's Word-Book William Henry Smyth
  • Surely this precipitous ascent will abate their ardor and slacken their speed.

  • He was obliged to slacken his speed in order not to hurt her.

    Flamsted quarries Mary E. Waller
  • Compelled then to slacken his pace, he glanced anxiously about him as he moved on through the unfamiliar country.

    The Young Sharpshooter at Antietam Everett T. Tomlinson
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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