Did you know?

Click any word in a definition or example to find the entry for that word

tighten - definition and synonyms


What are red words?

90% of the time, speakers of English use just 7,500 words in speech and writing. These words appear in red, and are graded with stars. One-star words are frequent, two-star words are more frequent, and three-star words are the most frequent.



The thesaurus of synonyms and related words is fully integrated into the dictionary. Click on the thesaurus category heading under the button in an entry to see the synonyms and related words for that meaning.

verb tighten pronunciation in British English /ˈtaɪt(ə)n/
Word Forms
present tense
present participletightening
past tensetightened
past participletightened
present tense
I/you/we/theytighten up
  • Facebook
  • Twitter

or tighten up tighten pronunciation in British English

  1. 1
    [transitive] to turn something such as a screw or a lid until it is tight and you cannot turn it any more
  2. 2
    [transitive] to pull something such as a rope or a belt until it is straighter or until it fits more tightly around something
    1. a.
      [intransitive] if something such as a rope or a chain tightens, it becomes straighter or it fits more tightly around something
  3. 3
    [intransitive/transitive] if a muscle or a part of your body tightens, or if you tighten it, it becomes hard and stiff, often because you are angry or afraid

    Her stomach tightened, anticipating the fight that was to come.

    1. a.
      [intransitive] if your mouth tightens, or if your lips tighten, your mouth looks narrow because you are angry or annoyed
  4. 4
    [intransitive] if your hand tightens, or if your fingers tighten, you hold something more tightly
  5. 5
    [transitive] to make a set of rules stricter or harder to avoid

    a bill that will tighten trading rules

    tighten control:

    The government wants to tighten its control on the press.

phrasal verbs


sea lion

in an online conversation, repeatedly asking a person questions which suggest that you are interested in what they are talking about, but are actually intended to annoy them

BuzzWord Article

Open Dictionary


an electric skateboard

add a word


A must for anyone with an interest in the changing face of language. The Macmillan Dictionary blog explores English as it is spoken around the world today.

global English and language change from our blog
Macmillan learn live love play