verb (used with object)
- to make less tense, rigid, or firm; make lax: to relax the muscles.
- to diminish the force of.
- to slacken or abate, as effort, attention, etc.
- to make less strict or severe, as rules, discipline, etc.: to relax the requirements for a license.
- to release or bring relief from the effects of tension, anxiety, etc.: A short swim always relaxes me.
verb (used without object)
- to become less tense, rigid, or firm.
- to become less strict or severe; grow milder.
- to reduce or stop work, effort, application, etc., especially for the sake of rest or recreation.
- to release oneself from inhibition, worry, tension, etc.
- to make (muscles, a grip, etc) less tense or rigid or (of muscles, a grip, etc) to become looser or less rigid
- (intr) to take rest or recreation, as from work or efforton Sundays, she just relaxes; she relaxes by playing golf
- to lessen the force of (effort, concentration, etc) or (of effort) to become diminished
- to make (rules or discipline) less rigid or strict or (of rules, etc) to diminish in severity
- (intr) (of a person) to become less formal; unbend
late 14c., “to make (something) less compact or dense,” from Old French relaschier “set free; soften; reduce” (14c.), from Latin relaxare “relax, loosen, open, stretch out, widen again; make loose,” from re- “back” (see re-) + laxare “loosen,” from laxus “loose” (see lax). Of persons, “to become less formal,” from 1837. Meaning “decrease tension” is from early 15c.; intransitive sense of “to become less tense” is recorded from 1935. Related: Relaxed; relaxing.
- To make or become lax or loose.
- To relieve or become relieved from tension or strain.