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Ratio of the maximum load a material can support without fracture when being stretched to the original area of a cross section of the material. When stresses less than the tensile strength are removed, a material completely or partially returns to its original size and shape. As the stress approaches that of the tensile strength, a material that has begun to flow forms a narrow, constricted region that is easily fractured. Tensile strengths are measured in units of force per unit area. See alsodeformation and flow.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on tensile strength, visit Britannica.com.