tighten one's belt

tighten one's belt


  1. a band of flexible material, as leather or cord, for encircling the waist.
  2. any encircling or transverse band, strip, or stripe.
  3. an elongated region having distinctive properties or characteristics: a belt of cotton plantations.
  4. Machinery. an endless flexible band passing about two or more pulleys, used to transmit motion from one pulley to the other or others or to convey materials and objects.
  5. Military.
    1. a cloth strip with loops or a series of metal links with grips, for holding cartridges fed into an automatic gun.
    2. a band of leather or webbing, worn around the waist and used as a support for weapons, ammunition, etc.
  6. a series of armor plates forming part of the hull of a warship.
  7. a broad, flexible strip of rubber, canvas, wood, etc., moved along the surface of a fresh concrete pavement to put a finish on it after it has been floated.
  8. a road, railroad, or the like, encircling an urban center to handle peripheral traffic.
  9. Slang. a hard blow or hit.
  10. Slang. a shot of liquor, especially as swallowed in one gulp.
  11. Automotive. a strip of material used in a type of motor-vehicle tire (belted tire), where it is placed between the carcass and the tread for reinforcement.

verb (used with object)

  1. to gird or furnish with a belt.
  2. to surround or mark as if with a belt or band: Garbage cans were belted with orange paint.
  3. to fasten on (a sword, gun, etc.) by means of a belt.
  4. to beat with or as if with a belt, strap, etc.
  5. Slang. to hit very hard, far, etc.: You were lucky he didn’t belt you in the mouth when you said that. He belted a triple to right field.
  6. Informal. to sing (a song) loudly and energetically (sometimes followed by out): She can belt out a number with the best of them.
  7. Slang. to drink (a shot of liquor) quickly, especially in one gulp (sometimes followed by down): He belted a few and went back out into the cold.


  1. below the belt, not in accord with the principles of fairness, decency, or good sportsmanship: criticism that hit below the belt.
  2. tighten one’s belt,
    1. to undergo hardship patiently.
    2. to curtail one’s expenditures; be more frugal: They were urged to tighten their belts for the war effort.
  3. under one’s belt, Informal.
    1. in one’s stomach, as food or drink: With a few Scotches under his belt, he’s everyone’s friend.
    2. considered as a matter of successful past experience: I don’t think our lawyer has enough similar cases under his belt.


  1. a band of cloth, leather, etc, worn, usually around the waist, to support clothing, carry tools, weapons, or ammunition, or as decoration
  2. a narrow band, circle, or stripe, as of colour
  3. an area, esp an elongated one, where a specific thing or specific conditions are found; zonethe town belt; a belt of high pressure
  4. a belt worn as a symbol of rank (as by a knight or an earl), or awarded as a prize (as in boxing or wrestling), or to mark particular expertise (as in judo or karate)
  5. See seat belt
  6. a band of flexible material between rotating shafts or pulleys to transfer motion or transmit goodsa fan belt; a conveyer belt
  7. a beltcourseSee cordon (def. 4)
  8. informal a sharp blow, as with a bat or the fist
  9. below the belt
    1. boxingbelow the waist, esp in the groin
    2. informalin an unscrupulous or cowardly way
  10. tighten one’s belt to take measures to reduce expenditure
  11. under one’s belt
    1. (of food or drink) in one’s stomach
    2. in one’s possession
    3. as part of one’s experiencehe had a linguistics degree under his belt


  1. (tr) to fasten or attach with or as if with a belt
  2. (tr) to hit with a belt
  3. (tr) slang to give a sharp blow; punch
  4. (intr often foll by along) slang to move very fast, esp in a carbelting down the motorway
  5. (tr) rare to mark with belts, as of colour
  6. (tr) rare to encircle; surround

v.early 14c., “to fasten or gird with a belt,” from belt (n.). Meaning “to thrash as with a belt” is 1640s; general sense of “to hit, thrash” is attested from 1838. Colloquial meaning “to sing or speak vigorously” is from 1949. Related: Belted; belting. Hence (from the “thrash with a belt” sense) the noun meaning “a blow or stroke” (1899). n.Old English belt “belt, girdle,” from Proto-Germanic *baltjaz (cf. Old High German balz, Old Norse balti, Swedish bälte), an early Germanic borrowing from Latin balteus “girdle, sword belt,” said by Varro to be an Etruscan word. As a mark of rank or distinction, mid-14c.; references to boxing championship belts date from 1812. Mechanical sense is from 1795. Transferred sense of “broad stripe encircling something” is from 1660s. Below the belt “unfair” (1889) is from pugilism. To get something under (one’s) belt is to get it into one’s stomach. To tighten (one’s) belt “endure privation” is from 1887.

  1. A geographic region that is distinctive in a specific respect.

Spend less, be more frugal, as in Business has been bad, so we’ll have to tighten our belts. This metaphoric term alludes to pulling in one’s belt after losing weight from not having enough to eat. [First half of 1900s] In addition to the idioms beginning with belt

  • belt down
  • belt out
  • also see:

  • below the belt
  • bible belt
  • sun belt
  • tighten one’s belt
  • under one’s belt
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