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I'd like to describe the sense of two people, one who is angry (call him Joe) at another (call him Bob), but upon hearing Bob's retort, Joe reconsiders his position and changes his mind about being angry.

How would you describe such a scene in terms of Joe's body language during this change?

One idea I was to describe how his tense limbs loosened, but I can't think of a concise, elegant way of describing that.

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migrated from english.stackexchange.com Apr 30 '13 at 7:08

This question came from our site for linguists, etymologists, and serious English language enthusiasts.

tension lifting off or even clouds of doubt lifting away – camelbrush Apr 17 '13 at 2:22
I think it's fairly appropriate as it's a word choice question; I have a scenario I'd like to describe and I'm not sure if there exists a verb or idiom that describes the scenario. But I'll check there anyway, thanks. – arigi Apr 17 '13 at 2:29
It's not fairly appropriate as a word choice question, nor as a single word request question. – Kris Apr 30 '13 at 6:26

You could try "detente", especially if they were arguing politics.

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Simply "he relaxed" or "his body relaxed". Relax is the word that precisely describe a physical tension loosening, in common language, but also in medical term, as well as describing a state of mind, or a situation defusing. From Webster:

To relieve from nervous tension...

To slacken or make less tense or rigid...

To cast off social restraint, nervous tension, or anxiety...

Actually, I've just realized that you asked two different questions: 1) the dissipation of tension between two people 2) describe Joe body language when the tension is dissipating. I'm answering No 2 here..

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