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.