tension

1 of 2

noun

ten·​sion ˈten(t)-shən How to pronounce tension (audio)
1
a
: 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
2
a
: the act or action of stretching or the condition or degree of being stretched to stiffness : tautness
3
a
: 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)
tensional adjective
tensionless adjective

tension

2 of 2

verb

tensioned; tensioning ˈten(t)-sh(ə-)niŋ How to pronounce tension (audio)

transitive verb

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

Example Sentences

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. See More
Recent Examples on the Web
Noun
Her character carries the audience with her as what could have been an idyllic getaway thrusts demands on her to be an agony aunt, diffuse tension, thwart advances of friendship and more. Callum Mclennan, Variety, 25 Nov. 2022 The excitement inside Cleos quickly gave way to tension after an uneventful first 45 minutes that saw no goals. Lee Bosch, Los Angeles Times, 24 Nov. 2022 Going back to his Christmas experiences as a child, Connick used tension and resolution in some early chords of the song. Hayden Grove, cleveland, 23 Nov. 2022 Meanwhile, tension is building in the medical community over what appears to be a grab-bag approach in treating long COVID ahead of big clinical trials. Kaiser Health News, oregonlive, 23 Nov. 2022 Cupping is a healing method from traditional Chinese medicine that suctions skin to increase circulation, which can relieve muscle tension and respiratory congestion (and it's beloved by celebs like Madonna and Haley Cuoco). Tess Garcia, Peoplemag, 22 Nov. 2022 The room's tension broke into an eruption of cheers. Andy Greenberg, WIRED, 22 Nov. 2022 To add some tension and drama, Miles has invited Cassandra, his former business partner and someone with a clear motive to literally kill him. Odie Henderson, BostonGlobe.com, 21 Nov. 2022 And without that tension, someone was going to suffer, and Yellowstone is about the Duttons. Evan Romano, Men's Health, 21 Nov. 2022
Verb
In a lengthy chat with host Stephen Colbert, the director and actress spoke about everything from firing Shia LaBeouf to tension with star Florence Pugh to whether Harry Styles actually spit on Chris Pine. Emily Zemler, Rolling Stone, 27 Sep. 2022 The roof bars tension the whole tent nicely, pulling against the stakes, so there’s no slack in the walls and no sag in the roof. Bill Gifford, Outside Online, 26 July 2022 The team will separate and individually tension each of the five sunshield layers, stretching them into their final shape. Julia Musto, Fox News, 2 Jan. 2022 Will tension between hawks and doves be the defining characteristic of Juntos going forward? Agustino Fontevecchia, Forbes, 14 Nov. 2021 The Rolex Oyster Perpetual contained a kinetic semi-circular plate that utilized movement from the wearer’s arm to tension the mainspring, making manual winding unnecessary. Kyle Roderick, Forbes, 22 June 2021 It can be controlled and aimed easily thanks to its tensioned handles, and the included 25mm and 10mm eyepieces sit snugly and conveniently on the included accessory tray. Popular Science, 9 Apr. 2020 The degree of retention can be altered via tensioning screws on the shells. The Editors, Outdoor Life, 20 Feb. 2020 Post-tensioning Workers must complete the post-tensioning of the bridge segments. Anna Beahm | Abeahm@al.com, al, 23 Oct. 2019 See More

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.

Word History

Etymology

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

First Known Use

Noun

1533, in the meaning defined at sense 2a

Verb

1891, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of tension was in 1533

Dictionary Entries Near tension

Cite this Entry

“Tension.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/tension. Accessed 28 Nov. 2022.

Kids Definition

tension

noun

ten·​sion
ˈten-chən
1
a
: the act or action of stretching or the condition or degree of being stretched to stiffness
tension of a muscle
2
a
: a state of mental unrest that is often accompanied by physical signs (as perspiring) of emotion
b
: a state of unfriendliness between individuals or groups

Medical Definition

tension

noun

ten·​sion ˈten-chən How to pronounce tension (audio)
1
a
: the act or action of stretching or the condition or degree of being stretched to stiffness
muscular tension
2
a
: 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
4
tensional adjective
tensionless adjective

More from Merriam-Webster on tension

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