Verb – Slacken
Something slack is slow, loose, weak, or not strict.
So, to slacken something is to slow it down or make it looser.
And when something slackens on its own, it becomes slower, looser, weaker, or less strict.
Part of speech:
Verb, often the intransitive kind (something slackens, or something slackens off), but also the transitive kind (somebody slackens something, or one thing slackens another thing).
How to use it:
This word is common, casual, and easy to understand, yet it still sounds graceful.
It calls less attention to itself than “abate” and “mitigate.”
And I think it’s worth our time to have a look at, so it can swoop in and help us when we’re thinking, “I need a word that means…get less, or get less bad… The summer heat slackened. Bingo.”
What kinds of things can slacken, besides summer temperatures?
Physical items that can hold tension, like ropes or sheets, or people’s body postures or facial expressions.
Movements, paces, and speeds.
Active things, like markets and economies.
Rules and systems that seem to have some level of rigidity.
And feelings and attitudes that seem to have some level of firmness or tightness, like stress, tension, demand, interest, determination, enthusiasm, etc.
“(Tyler Skaggs) battled injuries throughout his career, but his belief in himself never slackened.”
— Andy McCullough, Los Angeles Times, 1 July 2019
“The tips of his ears flamed, and his face slackened as he realized what he’d just said.”
— Sandhya Menon, When Dimple Met Rishi, 2017