Definition of tensor in US English:



  • 1Mathematics
    A mathematical object analogous to but more general than a vector, represented by an array of components that are functions of the coordinates of a space.

    • ‘Next above a vector are tensors of order 2, which are often referred to as matrices.’
    • ‘For our purposes, a tensor is an array of values (such as a vector or a matrix) that has the property that the relationship to other such arrays is unchanged if we rotate the coordinate axes (I discuss the biological meaning of this below).’
    • ‘The three components of the tensors were averaged to report the overall rate of diffusion or tumbling.’
    • ‘This compares three sequences at a time using a tensor (three-dimensional array) which records the frequencies of nucleotide triplets across the three sequences.’
    • ‘But the gravitational field is a symmetric tensor rather than a vector, and this means the graviton is spin-two, rather than spin-one like the photon.’
  • 2Anatomy
    A muscle that tightens or stretches a part of the body.

    • ‘This muscle is considered to be a tensor fasciae plantaris.’
    • ‘The more common external/lateral syndrome occurs when the iliotibial band, tensor muscle of fascia lata or gluteus medius tendon rides back and forth across the greater trochanter, where bursitis may also develop.’
    • ‘Two muscles - the tensor and levator palatine muscles - help the tube open and close.’


Early 18th century: modern Latin, from Latin tendere ‘to stretch’.