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From fresh +‎ -en.


  • IPA(key): /ˈfɹɛʃən/
  • (file)
  • enPR: frĕshʹən
  • Rhymes: -ɛʃən


freshen (third-person singular simple present freshens, present participle freshening, simple past and past participle freshened)

  1. (intransitive) To become fresh.
    1. To be refreshed.
    2. To become cool.
      • 1793, uncredited translator, The Natural History of Birds by Georges-Louis Leclerc, Comte de Buffon, London: A. Strahan and T. Cadell, Volume 4, “The Titiri, or Pipiri,” p. 468,[3]
        They breed, says M. Deshayes, in the heats of autumn, and during the freshening air of winter, at St. Domingo [...]
      • 1927, Frederick Philip Grove, A Search for America[4], Book 4, Chapter 2:
        We set out at once, swinging along at a good gait in the freshening afternoon, walking now the track, now the road which skirted it [...]
      • 2007 July 21, J. K. Rowling [pseudonym; Joanne Rowling], chapter 36, in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (Harry Potter; 7), London: Bloomsbury Publishing, →ISBN, page 728:
        A little later, Harry sensed, by a freshening of the air, that they had reached the edge of the forest.
    3. To become not salty, to lose its salinity. (of water)
      • 1785, John Rickman, Journal of Captain Cook’s Last Voyage, to the Pacific Ocean[5], London: E. Newbery, Introduction, pp. xxx-xxxi:
        He coasted along the American Continent from the 60th degree of northern latitude, till he fell in with the Gulph of St. Lawrence, which he continued to navigate till he perceived the water to freshen;
      • 1949, Jim Kjelgaard, chapter 1, in Kalak of the Ice[6], New York: Holiday House:
        They [...] drank from fresh-water lakes formed where old salt ice had freshened and melted [...]
  2. (intransitive, of wind) To become stronger.
    • 1674, James Janeway, “Remarkable Sea Deliverances”, in Mr. James Janeway’s Legacy to His Friends[7], London: Dorman Newman, page 53:
      [...] the wind freshen’d, and carryed our Maintop-mast by the board; in which disaster, the man that was lower-most, and least in danger, fell over-board, and was drowned;
    • 1727, Daniel Defoe, chapter 11, in An Essay on the History and Reality of Apparitions[8], London, page 214:
      [...] he call’d his chief Mate as he was going off from the Watch, and ask’d him how all things far’d; who answer’d, that all was well, and the Gale freshen’d, and they run at a great Rate;
    • 1886 May 1 – July 31, Robert Louis Stevenson, “I Hear of the ‘Red Fox’”, in Kidnapped, being Memoirs of the Adventures of David Balfour in the Year 1751: [], London, Paris: Cassell & Company, published 1886, →OCLC, page 101:
      All day the breeze held in the same point, and rather freshened than died down; and towards afternoon, a swell began to set in from round the outer Hebrides.
    • 1974, Richard Adams, chapter 7, in Shardik[9], London: Oneworld, published 2014:
      As he gazed up, the night wind freshened and the rustling of leaves became louder and higher, with a semblance of urgent repetition [...]
  3. (intransitive, transitive, of a cow) To begin or resume giving milk, especially after calving; to cause to resume giving milk.
    • 1919 January, in The Chenango County Farm Bureau News, volume 5, number 1, page 7:
      For Sale—Three registered holstein cows. Due to freshen the first of Jan. February and March. Prices that will sell. Age three and five years. Eugune Gibson, Smyrna.
    • 1938, Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings, chapter 26, in The Yearling[10], New York: Grosset and Dunlap, page 329:
      The cow freshened the week before Christmas. The calf was a heifer and there was rejoicing on Baxter’s Island.
    • 1955, Cyril M. Kornbluth, Not This August[11], Garden City, NY: Doubleday, Book 1, Chapter 4:
      It was a miserably small two-week net for eight good Holsteins, but they were near the end of their lactation period; soon he’d have to arrange for freshening them again.
  4. (transitive) To make fresh.
    1. To refresh; to revive; to renew.
      • 1657, John Davies (translator), Astrea by Honoré d'Urfé, London: H. Moseley et al., Volume 2, Part 3, Book 1, pp. 122-123,[12]
        [...] the good Druid went to seeke out some hearbs by the bank sides, which he knew were good to be applyed unto my wounds, and which would a little freshen and invigorate my spirits;
      • 1868, Louisa M[ay] Alcott, “A Telegram”, in Little Women: [], part first, Boston, Mass.: Roberts Brothers, published 1869, →OCLC, page 231:
        I’ve been pegging away at mathematics till my head is in a muddle, and I’m going to freshen my wits by a brisk turn.
      • 1952, Nevil Shute, chapter 6, in The Far Country[13], London: Heinemann:
        They went into the little room again at about a quarter to nine, freshened by a meal in the canteen and a cigarette.
      • 1956, Saul Bellow, chapter 5, in Seize the Day[14], New York: Crest, published 1965, page 89:
        New hope freshened his heart.
    2. To make cool.
      • 1973, Jan Morris, chapter 3, in Heaven’s Command: An Imperial Progress[15], New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, page 60:
        [...] Natal, the glorious green country on the coast, lush, forested, watered, warm in the bitterest winter, in the summer freshened by breezes off the sea or the high mountains that bounded it inland.
    3. To make green (vegetation that has become dry).
      • 1915, Edward Sorenson, On the Wallaby, Sydney: The Catholic Press, Chapter 11,[16]
        [The animals] were not valuable enough to be worth the trouble of saving until rain came to fill the holes and freshen the pastures.
    4. To remove or cover unpleasant qualities such as staleness, bad odour or taste (in air, breath, water, etc.).
      • 1876, George Eliot [pseudonym; Mary Ann Evans], chapter XVIII, in Daniel Deronda, volume I, Edinburgh, London: William Blackwood and Sons, →OCLC, book II (Meeting Streams), page 356:
        Mrs. Meyrick’s house was not noisy: the front parlor looked on the river, and the back on gardens, so that though she was reading aloud to her daughters, the window could be left open to freshen the air of the small double room where a lamp and two candles were burning.
      • 1958, T. H. White, chapter 20, in The Once and Future King[17], New York: Berkley, page 179:
        [...] from the earliest time that he could remember, there had lain pleasantly in the end of his nose the various scents of mint—used to freshen the water in the ewers—or of basil, camomile, fennel, hysop and lavender—which he had been taught to strew on the rushy floors [...]
      • 1989, John Irving, chapter 7, in A Prayer for Owen Meany[18], New York: William Morrow, page 333:
        Nowadays, she’d be the kind of woman who’d carry one of those breath-freshening atomizers in her purse—gassing herself with the atomizer, all day long, just in case someone might be moved to spontaneously kiss her.
      • 2007, Ngũgĩ wa Thiong'o, chapter 17, in Wizard of the Crow[19], New York: Knopf Doubleday, published 2008, page 392:
        Tajirika found him trying to freshen the air in the chamber with perfume, but no amount of perfume could quite remove the stink in the offices of the Ruler.
    5. To touch up (makeup); to give (a body part, especially the face) a quick wash.
      • 1958, Truman Capote, chapter 8, in Breakfast at Tiffany’s[20], Penguin, published 1961, page 56:
        It was after seven, she was freshening her lipstick and perking up her appearance [...]
      • 1969, Maya Angelou, chapter 35, in I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings[21], New York: Random House, page 266:
        [...] I knew that their laughter was real and that their lives were cheerful comedies, interrupted only by costume changes and freshening of make-up.
      • 1971, Alice Munro, “Heirs of the Living Body”, in Lives of Girls and Women[22], page 57:
        “Grace is upstairs, freshening her eyes. [...]”
      • 1976, Don DeLillo, “Reflections: Logicon Project Minus-One”, in Ratner’s Star[23], New York: Knopf, page 367:
        [He] stepped with terrible suddenness into what proved to be no more than a trickle of freezing water, enough at any rate to freshen his armpits, crotch and feet.
    6. To touch up the paint on (something).
      • 1922, W[illiam] B[utler] Yeats, chapter I, in The Trembling of the Veil, London: Privately printed for subscribers only by T[homas] Werner Laurie, Ltd., →OCLC, book I (Four Years 1887–1891), pages 3–4:
        I remember feeling disappointed [...] because the great sign of a trumpeter designed by Rooke, the Pre-Raphaelite artist, had been freshened by some inferior hand.
      • 1997, Toni Morrison, Paradise[24], New York: Knopf, published 1998, page 185:
        In staging the school’s Christmas play the whole town helped or meddled: older men repaired the platform, assembled the crib; young ones fashioned new innkeepers and freshened the masks with paint.
  5. (transitive) To give redness to (the face or cheeks of a person with light skin).
    • 1849, Currer Bell [pseudonym; Charlotte Brontë], “Mr. Donne’s Exodus”, in Shirley. A Tale. [], volume II, London: Smith, Elder and Co., [], →OCLC, page 107:
      It was a breezy sunny day; the air freshened the girls' cheeks and gracefully dishevelled their ringlets: [...]
    • 1872 September – 1873 July, Thomas Hardy, “‘Where Heaves the Turf in Many a Mould’ring Heap’”, in A Pair of Blue Eyes. [], volume I, London: Tinsley Brothers, [], published 1873, →OCLC, page 59:
      The wind had freshened his warm complexion as it freshens the glow of a brand.
    • 1986, William Trevor, “The News from Ireland”, in The News from Ireland and Other Stories[25], New York: Viking, page 15:
      ‘Might copper beech trees mark the route?’ suggested Adelaide, her dumpling countenance freshened by the excitement this thought induced.
  6. (transitive) To make less salty; to separate, as water, from saline ingredients.
    to freshen water, fish, or flesh
    • 1784, Thomas Pennant, Arctic Zoology[26], London, Volume 1, Introduction, p. clxxxviii:
      Let me remark, that the great exercise used by these volunteer adventurers; their quantity of vegetable food; their freshening their salt provision, by boiling it in water, and mixing it with flour; their beverage of whey; and their total abstinence from spirituous liquors—are the happy preservatives from the scurvy, which brought all the preceding adventurers, who perished, to their miserable end.
    • 1968, Ursula K. Le Guin, chapter 10, in A Wizard of Earthsea, Boston: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, published 2012, page 196:
      [...] ordinarily a wizard looks after such small conveniences by way of spells, the very least and commonest kind of spells, and indeed it takes little more magic to freshen seawater and so save the bother of carrying fresh water.
  7. (transitive, nautical) To relieve, as a rope, by change of place where friction wears it; or to renew, as the material used to prevent chafing.[1]
    to freshen a hawse
    • 1777, William Hutchinson, “On Mooring Ships”, in A Treatise on Practical Seamanship[27], Liverpool, page 73:
      [...] when a ship is to lie with all winds that may blow, the best anchor and open hawse should be towards the worst wind that may blow, to raise the waves, and give the ship a pitching motion [...] and must leave no more of the smallest moorings within board, than just enough to freshen the hawse on occasion;
  8. (transitive) To top up (a drink).
    • 1962, James Baldwin, Another Country[28], New York: Dial, published 1963, Book 1, Chapter 2, p. 89:
      She dried her eyes and blew her nose and picked up her drink. ¶ Cass stared at her helplessly. “Let me freshen it for you,” she said, and took the glass into the kitchen.
    • 1967, James Purdy, Eustace Chisholm and the Works[29], London: GMP Publishers, published 1984, Part 1, Chapter 10, p. 99:
      “Get in here and freshen my glass. You’ve got lousy manners for the son of a front-family, and just a[sic] hour since we’re engaged...”
  9. (transitive, historical) To top up (primer) in a firearm.

Derived terms[edit]



  1. ^ Benjamin J. Totten, Naval Text-Book, Boston: Little and Brown, 1841, p. 329.[1]