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Related to tightens: tightens belt
References in classic literature ?
Wingrave felt his companion's grasp tighten upon his arm; a flash of light upon the pale features and staring eyes of the young man a few feet off, showed him to be in the act of intercepting them.
It was the practice of our venerable ancestors to apply that ingenious instrument the thumb-screw, and to tighten and tighten it in order to elicit non-existent facts; they had a fixed opinion to begin with, that the facts were existent, and what had they to do but to tighten the thumb-screw?
The state of the credit markets most often move in tandem with the general economy, so when the economy softens, as it appears to be currently, the availability of credit typically tightens.