1

tense

adjective \ ˈten(t)s \
Updated on: 15 Nov 2017

Definition of tense

tenser; tensest
1 :stretched tight :made taut :rigid
  • tense muscles
2 a :feeling or showing nervous tension
  • a tense smile
b :marked by strain or suspense
  • a tense thriller
3 :produced with the muscles involved in a relatively tense state
  • the vowels \ē\ and \ü\ in contrast with the vowels \i\ and \u̇\ are tense

tensely

adverb

tenseness

noun

Examples of tense in a Sentence

  1. She was feeling pretty tense.

  2. Why are you so tense?

  3. We sat quietly for a few tense moments.

  4. It was a tense meeting.

  5. My calf muscles are really tense.

Recent Examples of tense from the Web

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'tense.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

Origin and Etymology of tense

Latin tensus, from past participle of tendere to stretch — more at thin


2

tense

verb

Definition of tense

tensed; tensing
transitive verb
:to make tense
intransitive verb
:to become tense
  • tensed up and missed the putt

Examples of tense in a Sentence

  1. She tensed as he walked toward her.

  2. He tensed up and missed the putt.

Recent Examples of tense from the Web

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'tense.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

First Known Use of tense

1676

tense Synonyms

Synonyms
strain, stretch, tauten, tighten
Antonyms
loosen, slack, slacken
Related Words
elongate, extend, lengthen; cinch, constrict
Near Antonyms
ease, relax

3

tense

noun

Definition of tense

1 :a distinction of form in a verb to express distinctions of time or duration of the action or state it denotes
2 a :a set of inflectional forms of a verb that express distinctions of time
b :an inflectional form of a verb expressing a specific time distinction

Examples of tense in a Sentence

  1. The sentence will read better if you change the tense of the verb.

  2. You should avoid changing tense in the middle of a paragraph.

Recent Examples of tense from the Web

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'tense.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

Origin and Etymology of tense

Middle English tens time, tense, from Anglo-French, from Latin tempus



TENSE Defined for English Language Learners

tense

noun

Definition of tense for English Language Learners

  • grammar : a form of a verb that is used to show when an action happened


tense

adjective

Definition of tense for English Language Learners

  • : nervous and not able to relax

  • : showing or causing nervousness

  • : not relaxed but hard and tight


tense

verb

Definition of tense for English Language Learners

  • : to make (a muscle) hard and tight

  • : to become nervous or tense


TENSE Defined for Kids

1

tense

noun \ ˈtens \

Definition of tense for Students

:a form of a verb used to show the time of the action or state

2

tense

adjective

Definition of tense for Students

tenser; tensest
1 :feeling or showing worry or nervousness :not relaxed
  • a tense smile
2 :marked by strain or uncertainty
  • a tense moment
3 :stretched tight
  • tense muscles

tensely

adverb

tenseness

noun

Word Root of tense

The Latin word tendere, meaning to “stretch” or “to spread,” and its form tentus give us the roots tend, tent, and tens. Words from the Latin tendere have something to do with stretching or spreading. A tent is a temporary shelter made from stretched out fabric. To distend is to stretch outward and swell in all directions. To extend is to stretch out. A tendon is a cord that connects a muscle to another muscle or to a bone and that stretches allowing a joint to bend. Something tense is stretched tight.


3

tense

verb

Definition of tense for Students

tensed; tensing
1 :to make or become worried or nervous
  • She tensed as the deadline grew near.
2 :to make (a muscle) hard and tight
  • She tensed her shoulders.

Medical Dictionary

1

tense

adjective \ ˈten(t)s \

medical Definition of tense

tenser; tensest
1 :stretched tight :made taut or rigid
  • the skeletal musculature involuntarily becomes tense
  • —H. G. Armstrong
2 :feeling or showing nervous tension
  • was tense and irritable

tenseness

noun

2

tense

verb

medical Definition of tense

tensed; tensing
transitive verb
:to make tense
  • tense a muscle
intransitive verb
:to become tense


Seen and Heard

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