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Definition of Idiomatic Expressions


What does tighten your belt mean?

Meaning of idioms with examples...

tighten your belt


If you tighten your belt, you try to spend less money or use fewer resources.


Some attribute this phrase to the consequences of the great depression. But one can safely imagine that the phrase might have existed much before the depression of the early 20th century. It was used at least a century before by David Stewart, a Scottish soldier and later author and antiquarian. In his book, Sketches of the Character, Manners, and Present State of the Highlanders of Scotland, David Stewart describes how the highlanders tightened their belts to stave off hunger:
"When pinched with hunger they experienced great relief from tightening the belt".

Literally, the phrase may also describe people who have very little money to buy food and lose so much weight that they have to tighten their belts to keep their pants from falling. Transferred to its figurative meaning, the phrase now means spending less money or using fewer resources.


- Going on holiday abroad will cost us a lot of money so we're all going to have to tighten our belts.
- She decided to tighten her belt because she was fired from her full-time job.

This idiom is in the clothes category

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