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[tahyt-n] /ˈtaɪt n/
verb (used with or without object)
to make or become tight or tighter.
Origin of tighten
1720-30; tight + -en1
Related forms
tightener, noun
overtighten, verb
retighten, verb
self-tightening, adjective
untighten, verb (used with object)
secure, anchor, fasten. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for tighten
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • She looked up and there was a light in her eyes that caused his hands to tighten on her shoulders.

    Mary Rose of Mifflin Frances R. Sterrett
  • I'll expect you to endorse the report back, and I'll expect you to tighten down.

    Final Weapon Everett B. Cole
  • In such a case great care should be taken not to tighten the wire beyond barely taking up the slack.

  • At the same moment her instinct told her to tighten her hold.

    Lorraine Robert W. Chambers
  • My experience is that when a shell bursts very close to you, your heart seems to tighten and jump up.

    Fighting the Boche Underground Harry Davis Trounce
British Dictionary definitions for tighten


to make or become tight or tighter
tighten one's belt, to economize
Derived Forms
tightener, noun
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 tighten

"to make tight," 1727; the earlier verb was simply tight, from Old English tyhtan, from the root of tight. Related: Tightened; tightening.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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