tension

noun
ten·​sion | \ˈten(t)-shən \

Definition of tension 

(Entry 1 of 2)

1a : inner striving, unrest, or imbalance often with physiological indication of emotion

b : a state of latent hostility or opposition between individuals or groups

c : a balance maintained in an artistic work between opposing forces or elements

2a : the act or action of stretching or the condition or degree of being stretched to stiffness : tautness

b : stress sense 1b

3a : either of two balancing forces causing or tending to cause extension

b : the stress resulting from the elongation of an elastic body

4 : a device to produce a desired tension (as in a loom)

tension

verb
tensioned; tensioning\ˈten(t)-​sh(ə-​)niŋ \

Definition of tension (Entry 2 of 2)

transitive verb

: to subject to tension especially : to tighten to a desired or appropriate degree

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Other Words from tension

Noun

tensional \ˈten(t)-​sh(ə-​)nəl \ adjective
tensionless \ˈten(t)-​shən-​ləs \ adjective

Verb

tensioner \ˈten(t)-​sh(ə-​)nər \ noun

Synonyms for tension

Synonyms: Noun

pressure, strain, stress

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Examples of tension in a Sentence

Noun

You can see she is just filled with tension about her job. The dramatic tension was very satisfying. The author resolves the tension too soon. Political tensions in the region make it unstable. Do you sense the tension between those two? There was a lot of tension at the meeting. The book describes the tension-filled days before the war. He felt a tension between duty and love. There will always be some tension between the desire to reduce risk and the desire to make as much money as possible.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Within Nissan, tensions before Mr. Ghosn’s arrest involved not only the future of the alliance but also Nissan’s own business struggles. Sean Mclain, WSJ, "Carlos Ghosn Planned to Replace Nissan CEO Before His Arrest," 10 Dec. 2018 The steel strings exert tension on the neck, which causes the neck to upbow. Henry Robertson, Popular Mechanics, "How to Set Up a Guitar And Make It Your Own," 7 Dec. 2018 In this week’s episode of Reply All, Sruthi Pinnamaneni tells the story of what happened when a small town landed the promise of a $10 billion investment and the tensions that arose in Mount Pleasant. Josh Dzieza, The Verge, "An interview with Reply All’s Sruthi Pinnamaneni," 6 Dec. 2018 The rise of Uber and other similar companies has also caused tensions to flare between the city’s taxi drivers and the newcomers behind the wheel. Alexia Fernández Campbell, Vox, "New York City passes nation’s first minimum pay rate for Uber and Lyft drivers," 5 Dec. 2018 The tension peaks after Claire helps a German family, the Muellers, safely welcome a baby girl into the world. Mehera Bonner, Harper's BAZAAR, "The 6 Biggest Reveals from 'Outlander' Season 4 Episode 5," 3 Dec. 2018 Everything has an intensely streamlined feel that keeps the drama rolling and the tension high. Charlie Theel, Ars Technica, "Arkham Horror Third Edition: The classic Lovecraft adventure returns," 24 Nov. 2018 The good news is that the breadth of offerings that take high cortisol levels to task has never been greater, allowing for a release in tension and a feeling of ease during this spirited season. Lauren Valenti, Vogue, "5 Ways to De-Stress—And Stay Sane—During the Holidays," 19 Nov. 2018 This is another creeping-dread film that’s more about tension and the isolation of the environment than about jump-scares and monster attacks. Tasha Robinson, The Verge, "The new horror film canon (and where to stream it)," 1 Nov. 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

The rear corners and vestibules must be tensioned to maximize interior volume, vestibule volume, and weather resistance. Andrew Skurka, Outside Online, "Review: Big Agnes Tiger Wall Tents," 28 June 2018 Engineers not working on the project have speculated that the cracks may have led to adjusting the post-tensioning cables, which strengthen the concrete against the stress of being pulled, and caused the failure. Jenny Staletovich, miamiherald, "NTSB discloses new details about work performed before FIU bridge collapsed | Miami Herald," 21 Mar. 2018 Robert Accetta, the investigator-in-charge for the NTSB, said crews were applying post-tensioning force, but investigators aren’t sure if that’s what caused the bridge to fall. Adriana Gomez Licon, Time, "An Engineer Reported Cracks on FIU Bridge 2 Days Before Deadly Collapse. No One Got the Voicemail, Officials Say," 17 Mar. 2018 Robert Accetta, the investigator-in-charge for the NTSB, said crews were applying post-tensioning force, but investigators aren't sure if that's what caused the bridge to fall. Adriana Gomez Licon And Jennifer Kay, chicagotribune.com, "2 cars, 3 bodies removed from collapsed Miami bridge debris," 17 Mar. 2018 Robert Accetta, the investigator-in-charge for the NTSB, said crews were applying post-tensioning force, but investigators aren't sure if that's what caused the bridge to fall. Leada Gore, AL.com, "St. Patrick's Day 2018: Best Irish blessings, quotes, inspiration," 17 Mar. 2018

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

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First Known Use of tension

Noun

1533, in the meaning defined at sense 2a

Verb

1891, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for tension

Noun

Middle French or Latin; Middle French, from Latin tension-, tensio, from tendere

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Statistics for tension

Last Updated

13 Dec 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for tension

The first known use of tension was in 1533

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More Definitions for tension

tension

noun

English Language Learners Definition of tension

: a feeling of nervousness that makes you unable to relax

: a feeling of nervousness, excitement, or fear that is created in a movie, book, etc.

: a state in which people, groups, countries, etc., disagree with and feel anger toward each other

tension

noun
ten·​sion | \ˈten-shən \

Kids Definition of tension

1 : the act of straining or stretching : the condition of being strained or stretched I adjusted the strap's tension.

2 : a state of worry or nervousness

3 : a state of unfriendliness There was tension between the two groups.

tension

noun
ten·​sion | \ˈten-chən \

Medical Definition of tension 

1a : the act or action of stretching or the condition or degree of being stretched to stiffness muscular tension

b : stress sense 1b

2a : either of two balancing forces causing or tending to cause extension

b : the stress resulting from the elongation of an elastic body

3 : inner striving, unrest, or imbalance often with physiological indication of emotion

Other Words from tension

tensional \ˈtench-​nəl, -​ən-​ᵊl \ adjective
tensionless \ˈten-​chən-​ləs \ adjective

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Comments on tension

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