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

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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 The lecturer tasks George with enacting a volcano prototype and engages in a borderline-sensual explanation of how tension builds before a volcano erupts. Kristin Vartan, EW.com, "The Dickinson recap binge guide: Episodes 1-10," 11 Nov. 2019 Most come in several different tension levels varying from light (meaning little resistance) to heavy (meaning lots of resistance). SELF, "13 Resistance Band Exercises for Your Arms," 8 Nov. 2019 There is speculation that tensions over South Korea’s decision to deploy an American missile system in 2016 led to the visa refusal, although the Chinese foreign ministry denies it. Nr Editors, National Review, "The Week," 7 Nov. 2019 No need to fuss with roller tension on the back wheel; the folding arm that holds your bike takes care of that. Bradley Ford, Popular Mechanics, "The Best Indoor Trainers for Dedicated Cyclists," 7 Nov. 2019 The most slept on herb for calming tension and anxiety. Kimberly Wilson, Essence, "Meet The Black Woman That Is Healing DC With Her Teas and Tonics," 7 Nov. 2019 Shoenfeld has long espoused theories popular among antivaccine advocates and spoken at their meetings, causing tensions with the Israeli medical community. Kai Kupferschmidt, Science | AAAS, "Top Israeli immunologist accused of promoting antivaccine views," 6 Nov. 2019 When tensions come to a head, government workers come calling to force the campers somewhere else. Andrew Theen | The Oregonian/oregonlive, oregonlive, "Beat Check podcast: Can a Portland program prevent chronic homeless camps, support the vulnerable at the same time?," 4 Nov. 2019 TikTok has been growing more popular among U.S. teenagers at a time of growing tensions between the United States and China over trade and technology transfers. NBC News, "U.S. opens national security investigation into TikTok, sources say," 1 Nov. 2019 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb The buttons are satisfying and sturdy, with mechanically tensioned springs underneath both the left and right buttons and separate keyplates for accuracy. Jess Grey, WIRED, "The Best Mouse for Every Kind of Gamer," 17 Aug. 2019 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

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

15 Nov 2019

Time Traveler for tension

The first known use of tension was in 1533

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More Definitions for tension

tension

noun
How to pronounce tension (audio)

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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