- 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[transitive] tighten something to make something become stricter to tighten security The government is to tighten controls on the sale of alcohol. opposite loosenExtra examples He felt his stomach tighten. He saw his father’s jaw tighten in irritation. He tightened his grip on my hand. Her face tightened with pain. Her fingers tightened convulsively with every jolt she received. Her grip seemed to tighten on the door handle. His hand tightened painfully around her wrist. His mouth tightened into a thin hard line. His words made her throat tighten. Steps were taken to tighten discipline in the school. The law in this area has been tightened up considerably. The nuts weren’t properly tightened and the wheel came off. This tool is for tightening screws.Idioms to spend less money because there is less available With price increases on most goods, everyone is having to tighten their belt. There is a need for further belt-tightening. Synonymssavebudget economize tighten your beltThese words all mean to spend less money.save 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:If we budget carefully we’ll be able to afford the trip.economize to use less money, time, etc. than you normally usetighten your belt (rather informal) to spend less money because there is less available:With the price increases, we are all having to tighten our belts.Patterns to save up/budget for something to have to save/budget/economize/tighten our belts to try to/manage to save/budget/economize Phrasal Verbstighten up (on something)
BrE BrE//ˈtaɪtn//; NAmE NAmE//ˈtaɪtn//Verb Forms present simple I / you / we / they tighten
BrE BrE//ˈtaɪtn//; NAmE NAmE//ˈtaɪtn//he / she / it tightens
BrE BrE//ˈtaɪtnz//; NAmE NAmE//ˈtaɪtnz//past simple tightened
BrE BrE//ˈtaɪtnd//; NAmE NAmE//ˈtaɪtnd//past participle tightened
BrE BrE//ˈtaɪtnd//; NAmE NAmE//ˈtaɪtnd//-ing form tightening
BrE BrE//ˈtaɪtnɪŋ//; NAmE NAmE//ˈtaɪtnɪŋ//