American English

Definition of tighten verb from the Oxford Advanced American Dictionary



    Verb Forms present simple I / you / we / they tighten
    he / she / it tightens
    past simple tightened
    -ing form tightening
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  1. 1[intransitive, transitive] to become or make something become tight or tighter tighten (up) The rope holding the boat suddenly tightened and broke. His mouth tightened into a thin line. tighten something (up) to tighten a lid/screw/rope/knot The nuts weren't properly tightened and the wheel came off. She tightened her grip on his arm. The brake cable needs tightening up.
  2. 2[transitive] tighten something to make something become stricter to tighten security The government is to tighten controls on the sale of alcohol. opposite loosen
  3. Idioms
    tighten your belt
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    to spend less money because there is less available My parents really had to tighten their belts after my mother retired. see also belt-tightening Thesaurussavebudget economize tighten your beltThese words all mean to spend less to keep money instead of spending it, often in order to buy a particular thing:I'm saving for a new car.budget to be careful about the amount of money you spend; to plan to spend an amount of money for a particular purpose:I've budgeted $1,000 to furnish my new apartment.economize to use less money, time, etc. than you normally usetighten your belt (somewhat informal) to spend less money because there is less available:My parents really had to tighten their belts after my mother retired.Patterns to save up/budget for something to have to save/budget/economize/tighten our belts to try to/manage to/be able to save/budget/economize
    Phrasal Verbstighten up (on something)
See the Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary entry: tighten