I wonder if it means "make something happen fast" here, like sadden, darken etc.? because if we use this link http://www.oxfordlearnersdictionaries.com/definition/english/fasten?q=fasten+ it doesn't help.

Analysts say high-tensile steel and aluminium will be the more popular alternative for many years to come, considering parts makers would need to overhaul production lines and figure out ways to fasten new materials like cellulose nanofibre onto other car parts.

Source: https://www.cnbc.com/2017/08/14/japanese-auto-parts-could-soon-be-made-out-of-wood.html

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    As an aside the word hasten does mean "make something happen fast."
    – LawrenceC
    Commented Aug 15, 2017 at 12:51
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    Relating it to "darken" and "sadden", that would mean that "fasten" would mean "to speed up". Pedantry aside, that doesn't make sense in your quote so probably isn't right.
    – wizzwizz4
    Commented Aug 15, 2017 at 16:19
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    Why doesn't the dictionary link help you? I think it makes it pretty clear that "fasten" means to attach, not to make something faster. It even has an example like in your paragraph about fastening something onto something else.
    – Kat
    Commented Aug 15, 2017 at 17:55

6 Answers 6


It means to attach

"parts makers would need to overhaul production lines and figure out ways to fasten new materials like cellulose nanofibre onto other car parts."

This means to attach the new materials to other car parts. It uses the original meaning of "fast" (held in place) instead of the more common meaning (speed).


There is also a third meaning of "fast" as a verb (To fast):

Fasting is a willing abstinence or reduction from some or all food, drink, or both, for a period of time. An absolute fast or dry fasting is normally defined as abstinence from all food and liquid for a defined period, usually a period of 24 hours, or a number of days.

Fasting is predominantly a religious action.

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    And don't forget there's a third definition for "fast" which means to abstain from eating (hence breakfast).
    – zzzzBov
    Commented Aug 15, 2017 at 14:08
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    Because this is the accepted answer, I want to emphasize that using "fasten" to mean "tighten" or "secure" is NOT archaic. It is perfectly acceptable in modern speech. Frankly, using the adjective "fast" to mean "firmly attached" is also be generally understood, and sounds educated, not anachronistic.
    – Adam
    Commented Aug 15, 2017 at 15:14
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    @Adam - For sure...How often do you hear even "Fasten your seatbelts"...it's absolutely commonplace (in AmE anyways).
    – BruceWayne
    Commented Aug 15, 2017 at 15:28
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    "Fasting is predominantly a religious action" - It is also quite a common prescription for patients about to undergo surgery, endoscopy, or other diagnostic tests.
    – Mike Vonn
    Commented Aug 15, 2017 at 15:56
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    make|tie it fast is used in many contexts where people need to make things secure with rope or twine, including hunting, nautical, camping, hiking, building and construction, and in every popular video game about whaling.
    – TimR
    Commented Aug 15, 2017 at 16:27

Fasten literally means "to make fast", but here fast has its older meaning of "firmly fixed, steadfast".

Other synonyms of "fasten" include attach, join, connect, fix, close.

For a verb meaning "to make quick", see quicken or hasten.

[ ways to [ fasten [ [new materials] [like cellulose nanofibre] ] onto [other car parts] ]

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    Just interesting to note that "fast", "quick" and "haste" all used to have very different meanings. Now they all indicate high speed.
    – OrangeDog
    Commented Aug 15, 2017 at 11:23
  • Note that "to make fast" mean "firmly fix in place" is still used in nautical settings. For example, one might say "When sailing close hauled, do not make the main sheet fast in the cleat, as an unexpected gust could capsize the boat before you can luff the sail". Commented Aug 15, 2017 at 23:16

The definition of the word "fasten" is to (cause something to) become firmly fixed together, or in position, or closed.

It's worth noting that the prepositions "on" and "upon" change the meaning of the word fasten to "to give attention to something, because it is of special interest or often because you think it is the cause of a problem".


  • Fasten your seatbelts please.
  • Fasten your jacket.
  • Please fasten the processor onto the motherboard.
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    Might be worth commenting that "fast" (as well as meaning "speedy") has a lesser used meaning of "fixed" (cf German fest = hard, firm, fixed). Today this is only seen in "to make fast" which is specifically nautical (to make a [rope, vessel, door] secure), in relation to dyes, paints etc, (where it means "won't come out"), and "to fasten" (which is where we came in). Commented Aug 15, 2017 at 10:28
  • Given that fasten means 'to make something fast' for the appropriate meaning of the adjective, your second sentence is potentially misleading and begs the question - you have to know that discrete 'fast' as in fasten is not the same as relative 'faster' to understand it properly. Commented Aug 15, 2017 at 14:25
  • @PeteKirkham I didn't understand your comment Commented Aug 15, 2017 at 14:27
  • It can read as "[fasten] doesn't have a definition that would mean to make something/someone [more fast]", which is false - that is exactly what fasten does mean, for the meaning of "fast" that Martin mentioned. Commented Aug 15, 2017 at 14:37

There is the term "hasten", originating from the noun "haste", meaning doing something in a hurry/quickly.

However, "fasten" means to connect something, such as "fasten your shirt buttons", "fasten your seat belt", etc.

The word "fast", when used as a verb, means to refrain from drinking or eating for a period (a common practice in many religions/cults). e.g. "he fasted for 40 days to get closer to god."


Fasten means "to hold fast." This definition highlights a fascinating aspect of the word fast -- it is its own antonym. As in the contrast between driving fast and holding fast. There are few other examples in the language, though none come to mind at present.


The term "fast" has three seemingly different meanings:

  • to do something quick
  • to make something firmly attached
  • to abstain from taking food for the religious purpose

Personally, I am more interested in the source of such differences, and for this purpose I am taking to the etymological dictionary. So let's do it: fast

As far as I understand, the original meaning was "to make something firmly attached", which was eventually developed into "to do something quick", based on the loose similarity of the term ("to run hard means the same as to run fast or perhaps from the notion of a runner who "sticks" close to whatever he is chasing"). And then also took the religious meaning, through "The original meaning in prehistoric Germanic was "hold firmly," and the sense evolved via "have firm control of oneself," to "hold oneself to observance""

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