tension

noun
ten·​sion | \ ˈten(t)-shən How to pronounce tension (audio) \

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
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 How to pronounce tensioning (audio) \

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 How to pronounce tensional (audio) \ adjective
tensionless \ ˈten(t)-​shən-​ləs How to pronounce tensionless (audio) \ adjective

Verb

tensioner \ ˈten(t)-​sh(ə-​)nər How to pronounce tensioner (audio) \ 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

Abe has reportedly sought to play a mediator role in increasing tensions between the U.S., North Korea and Iran. Washington Post, "Trump to Face Off With Japan’s Abe on Trade After Golf and Sumo," 18 Sep. 2019 There's an obvious tension between the two halves of Musk's argument. Timothy B. Lee, Ars Technica, "Musk spent $50,000 digging into critic’s personal life," 17 Sep. 2019 The Persian Gulf has been a major flash point as tensions between Tehran and the West have escalated in recent months. BostonGlobe.com, "Earlier, the White House had said that it was not ruling out the possibility of a meeting between Trump and Rouhani on the sidelines of the UN summit. But the events of the weekend have jeopardized any potential for discussion.," 17 Sep. 2019 Earlier this year, tensions between the US and Iran soared to levels that prompted fears of a conflict. Julia Hollingsworth, CNN, "Australia names academic held in Iran for almost a year," 14 Sep. 2019 This tension between connecting to Europe or to the transoceanic world has been a factor in British government and foreign policy for centuries. Conrad Black, National Review, "The Roots of Brexit," 9 Sep. 2019 The case highlights the tension between vintners and marijuana businesses over land, water, odor and aesthetics in the fertile areas of Oregon and California where both wine grapes and state-legal cannabis flourish. Gillian Flaccus, The Seattle Times, "Federal judge: Oregon pot racketeering lawsuit can proceed," 8 Sep. 2019 There is also a tension between the majority in the Parliament elected by the people and the majority verdict the people rendered in the referendum. E.j. Dionne Jr., The Mercury News, "Dionne: What US gun violence and Brexit have in common," 5 Sep. 2019 The recent spate of attacks on officers has unnerved many and heightened already simmering tensions between the police union and Harrison. Jean Marbella, baltimoresun.com, "Baltimore police feeling targeted both on the streets and by leadership," 30 Aug. 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

The left and right buttons should have individual switches inside the mouse, tensioned to register rapid clicks, and reinforced to withstand more frequent clicks than a normal mouse might. Jess Grey, WIRED, "The Best Mouse for Every Kind of Gamer," 17 Aug. 2019 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 Big Agnes’ marketing material will often reference the Tiger Wall’s trail weight, but this is not a practical weight, since its performance is greatly diminished if the rear corners and vestibules are not tensioned. Andrew Skurka, Outside Online, "Review: Big Agnes Tiger Wall Tents," 28 June 2018 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

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

borrowed from Middle French and Latin; Middle French, borrowed from Latin tensiōn-, tensiō "process of drawing tight, constriction, spasm," from tendere "to extend outward, stretch, draw tight" + -tiōn-, -tiō, suffix of verbal action — more at tender entry 3

Verb

derivative of tension entry 1

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Statistics for tension

Last Updated

20 Sep 2019

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 How to pronounce tension (audio) \

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 How to pronounce tension (audio) \

Medical Definition of tension

1a : the act or action of stretching or the condition or degree of being stretched to stiffness muscular tension
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 How to pronounce tensional (audio) \ adjective
tensionless \ ˈten-​chən-​ləs How to pronounce tensionless (audio) \ adjective

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Comments on tension

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