Main definitions of tense in English

: tense1tense2

tense1

adjective

  • 1(especially of a muscle) stretched tight or rigid.

    ‘she tried to relax her tense muscles’
    • ‘His fingers kneaded the tense muscles of her shoulders but it did very little to relax her.’
    • ‘He was not feverish, but his muscles were tense.’
    • ‘Learning to breathe more fully can help you let go of pain and loosen tense muscles.’
    • ‘She ran her hands along Elisa's shoulders, smoothing her tense muscles.’
    • ‘He relaxed his tense finger that had been curled around the trigger.’
    • ‘Aerobic exercise helps to loosen tense muscles.’
    • ‘Over time, an individual will learn to recognize the feelings connected with tense muscles.’
    • ‘She'd taken a long, hot shower and even that had failed to relax her tense muscles.’
    • ‘The warm water felt so very good on his tense muscles.’
    • ‘This move relaxes tense muscles all along your spine.’
    • ‘All of his tense muscles were growing stiff and sore.’
    • ‘She tried to stand up, but her already tense muscles had stiffened considerably during the flight.’
    • ‘She sighed and stretched her tense muscles.’
    • ‘Her muscles were tense and a cold sweat was breaking out on her forehead.’
    • ‘The man did not extend his hand, but his tense posture relaxed noticeably.’
    • ‘She put her hands on his back and rubbed the tense muscles soothingly.’
    • ‘She was exhausted and she needed a hot, steaming shower to loosen her tense muscles.’
    • ‘I breathed out deeply and tried to relax my tense muscles.’
    • ‘She slid behind him and began to massage the tense muscles in his shoulders.’
    • ‘My muscles were tense from the unusual exertion, and my body was still exhausted.’
    taut, stretched tight, tight, rigid, stretched, strained, stiff
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1Phonetics
      (of a speech sound, especially a vowel) pronounced with the vocal muscles stretched tight.
      The opposite of lax
      • ‘Tense vowels tend to be peripheral and lax vowels closer to schwa, the neutral or central vowel.’
  • 2Unable to relax because of nervousness, anxiety, or stimulation.

    ‘he was tense with excitement’
    • ‘Whereas she's relatively calm and relaxed, he's tense and anxious.’
    • ‘I really need to sleep and I'm too tense to relax.’
    • ‘Everybody coming to this department is very tense and nervous because they are awaiting results.’
    • ‘He was as calm as ever but there was a tense anxiety in his eyes.’
    • ‘He was still tense and agitated, and the view did nothing to calm him down.’
    • ‘We all waited in tense excitement.’
    • ‘The slow, fluid movements help tense, stressed people relax.’
    • ‘I feel very tense and nervous when I try to initiate a conversation’
    • ‘Tariq is not socially relaxed; he feels tense.’
    • ‘The man in the guitar shop was very tense, somewhat agitated.’
    • ‘Children who are feeling anxiety may be tense or get upset easily.’
    • ‘Feeling more and more tense and unable to sleep, he was prescribed drugs.’
    • ‘There was a big crowd now, and Celinda was already tense with excitement.’
    • ‘He decided a refreshing dip would relax his tense nerves.’
    • ‘I'm just too tense an individual to really relax first before writing.’
    • ‘When I was younger, of course I was more tense and nervous.’
    • ‘His body had relaxed a bit, but his voice was tense and apprehensive.’
    • ‘I relaxed myself after being tense for a few minutes.’
    • ‘At first she was tense, but she relaxed slightly when he put his arm around her.’
    • ‘At first he was tense and then he relaxed.’
    1. 2.1Causing or characterized by anxiety and nervousness.
      ‘they waited in tense silence’
      ‘relations between the two neighbouring states were tense’
      • ‘The atmosphere is tense and edgy, and the political slogans on the posters read like threats.’
      • ‘Another voice rang out, startlingly loud in the tense stillness.’
      • ‘Nobody said anything for a while, creating an uneasy and tense silence.’
      • ‘The first few weeks were a tense whirlwind of emotion.’
      • ‘He has created a fresh, tense and gripping thriller.’
      • ‘There were a few tense moments of silence before she answered.’
      • ‘The silence was an intangible tense feeling in the air.’
      • ‘Before and after the tense match, bricks and bottles were lobbed through the air.’
      • ‘At that very second the atmosphere was tense but electric.’
      • ‘He was suddenly uneasy in the tense silence.’
      • ‘It occurred to me that what he did for a living was relax people in tense situations.’
      • ‘In an exciting and very tense second half, the teams were locked together on three occasions.’
      • ‘Last night there was a tense silence between them during dinner.’
      • ‘She had a tense encounter with a small but vocal group of protesters.’
      • ‘A tense, uncomfortable silence lay heavy upon them.’
      • ‘As soon as she left, an awkward and tense silence settled over the room.’
      • ‘In these tense hours emotions, tempers, and fears are running high.’
      • ‘It's a superb film that's tense and riveting.’
      • ‘The province was increasingly tense in recent weeks.’
      • ‘A tense, uneasy silence fell over the room again.’

verb

[NO OBJECT]
  • 1 Become tense, typically through anxiety or nervousness.

    ‘her body tensed up’
    • ‘I tensed up a little but he gave me a reassuring pat on the back.’
    • ‘If you get too tensed up and let it get to you, that's counter-productive.’
    • ‘In the most recent retreat I attended, I became tensed up inside from trying to relax.’
    • ‘I tensed up at the idea that I wouldn't make it in time to see Josh one last time.’
    • ‘He tensed up when he saw her.’
    • ‘Star tensed up in fear.’
    • ‘She tensed up as people stared and laughed.’
    • ‘They are so tensed up, they become near nervous wrecks.’
    • ‘She had tensed up for a second, not sure what to do.’
    • ‘Everyone tensed up when they heard the loud growls coming from the creatures.’
    • ‘He tensed up again when he heard a man scream.’
    • ‘He tensed up as he heard weapons fire coming from the area to his right.’
    • ‘He tensed up again as he was confronted by the cold glares of his wife.’
    • ‘He immediately tensed up at the question.’
    • ‘The film that creates such an atmosphere of despair that I begin to tense up and get nervous.’
    • ‘I tensed up, pleading silently that no one was going to break out in a fight again.’
    • ‘I tensed up and became afraid.’
    • ‘I tensed up and squeezed her hand harder.’
    • ‘He used to get quite tensed up and panicky about things, but that is all in the past now.’
    • ‘He tensed up for a single second, and then relaxed, all his worries and pain leaving him.’
    1. 1.1[with object]Make (a muscle or one's body) tight or rigid.
      ‘carefully stretch and then tense your muscles’
      • ‘She watched his hand move over the gun and her body tensed up.’
      • ‘Panic sufferers usually tense their bodies and breathe in a way that increases symptoms.’
      • ‘I must have tensed my body at the wrong time; my ribs were in agony.’
      • ‘Shallow breathing often results from tensing your upper body.’
      • ‘To exercise the muscles, tense them tightly for as long as you can, then relax them to their normal position.’
      • ‘In order to widen your eyes, you must tense certain muscles in your face.’
      • ‘You always have some worry going through your mind, your muscles are always tensed.’
      • ‘I try to tense my entire body when I'm training, no matter what body part I'm working.’
      • ‘Start to tense the muscles and then completely relax them.’
      • ‘He felt her tense and then relax back against him.’
      • ‘Every muscle in her body was tensed for the coming action.’
      • ‘You have to be able to tense your body and keep the defender from getting around you.’
      • ‘My hands tensed up into fists.’
      • ‘Tense each body part for a moment and then relax it.’
      • ‘Being under stress causes you to tense your muscles, and this can make you more prone to injury.’
      • ‘She wrung her hands nervously behind her back, shoulders tensing and untensing.’
      • ‘When we are stressed our body responds by tensing the muscles.’
      • ‘I could see the muscles of his arms tensing every now and then.’
      • ‘My muscles were tensed and locked; every second longer in that position felt like a year.’
      • ‘Many people carry stress by tensing their muscles.’

Origin

Late 17th century: from Latin tensus stretched, from the verb tendere.

Pronunciation:

tense

/tɛns/

Main definitions of tense in English

: tense1tense2

tense2

noun

Grammar
  • A set of forms taken by a verb to indicate the time (and sometimes also the continuance or completeness) of the action in relation to the time of the utterance.

    ‘the future tense’
    • ‘As the network learned, it began to generate ‘digged’ for ‘dug,’ regular past tenses of irregular verbs.’
    • ‘When my brain was filled with verb tenses, right triangles and pulmonary veins, there was no room for personal thoughts.’
    • ‘The tenses switch from past to present and back again and there is a dramatic use of dialogue.’
    • ‘At the moment I am trying to master 5 different tenses of verbs and also adverbs, pronouns and other vocabulary.’
    • ‘But just because we can decode his meaning in spite of his mixing of tenses (past tense and future brutally slammed together), doesn't make it a good practice.’

Origin

Middle English (in the general sense ‘time’): from Old French tens, from Latin tempus time.

Pronunciation:

tense

/tɛns/