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Tighten his jaw

Posted by Victoria S Dennis on August 30, 2007

In Reply to: Tighten his jaw posted by Smokey Stover on August 30, 2007

: : : : What does someone exactly do, if he "tightens his jaw"?
: : : : The context is a lecture, the man giving the speech is quite tired of it already.

: : : : "He tightened his jaw, coughed and drew himself up one last time"

: : : It is an indication that he is determined, resolute.

: : Incidentally, it's not a metaphor. It means he contracted the muscles around his jaw joints, like making a fist. ~rb

: Unless he tightened his jaw in some peculiar way, the normal way to say it is, "He clenched his jaw." Or perhaps that's just the medico-dental way to say it, as in "Sleeping with yourjaw clenched is hard on your teeth."

Mmh. In my book clenching one's jaw is a degree more intense than merely tightening it, and would indicate serious stress rather than mere resolve. Certainly to me "he tightened his jaw" seems a perfectly normal phrase. Is this perhaps a divergence between Leftpondian & Rightpondian usage? (VSD)