verb (used with object)

  1. to make fresh; refresh, revive, or renew: We need a good rain to freshen the flowers.
  2. to remove saltiness from.
  3. Nautical. to preserve (a rope in use) from prolonged friction or concentrated stress on any one part.

verb (used without object)

  1. to become or grow fresh.
  2. (of a cow)
    1. to commence giving milk after calving.
    2. to give birth.

Verb Phrases

  1. freshen up, to make oneself feel freshly clean or neat, as by washing, changing clothes, etc.: to freshen up after a long trip.


  1. to make or become fresh or fresher
  2. (often foll by up) to refresh (oneself), esp by washing
  3. (intr) (of the wind) to increase
  4. to lose or cause to lose saltiness
  5. (intr) mainly US
    1. (of farm animals) to give birth
    2. (of cows) to commence giving milk after calving

1690s, from fresh (adj.1) + -en (1). Related: Freshened; freshening. To freshen a drink, “top it off” is from 1961. The earlier verb was simply fresh (mid-14c.).

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