- stretched tight, as a cord, fiber, etc.; drawn taut; rigid.
- in a state of mental or nervous strain; high-strung; taut: a tense person.
- characterized by a strain upon the nerves or feelings: a tense moment.
- Phonetics. pronounced with relatively tense tongue muscles; narrow.Compare lax(def 7).
- to make or become tense.
Origin of tense1
- a category of verbal inflection that serves chiefly to specify the time of the action or state expressed by the verb.
- a set of such categories or constructions in a particular language.
- the time, as past, present, or future, expressed by such a category.
- such categories or constructions, or their meanings collectively.
Origin of tense2
Examples from the Web for tenses
My apologies if the tenses in the preceeding sentence are grammatically incorrect.Royal Baby Is First Person To Get a Wikipedia Page Before It Is Born
July 2, 2013
Roinsard fielded questions in a heavy French accent, frequently mixing up his tenses and appealing to a translator for a lifeline.Why Can’t France Learn English?
March 9, 2013
He plays fast and loose with tenses, slipping into the present, stopping the reader short in front of a brick wall.Great Weekend Reads: 4 New Novels, November 13, 2011
Susan Salter Reynolds, Christopher Byrd, John Wilwol, Jennifer Miller
November 13, 2011
Anyone who has tried to learn a second language is familiar with the maddening irregular verbs, conjugations, and tenses.Do You Speak Klingon?
June 14, 2009
"You are not quite right in your tenses, Austin," she remarked.Viviette
William J. Locke
In verbs there are five tenses, or times, expressing an action, or affirmation.The Comic Latin Grammar
Egotism, in every one of its moods and tenses, must have a strong fascination.A Day's Ride
Charles James Lever
The denotation of the tenses was effected by appropriate signs.The Stranger in France
The morning wore on, and tenses and moods gave place to drill.An Australian Lassie
- stretched or stressed tightly; taut or rigid
- under mental or emotional strain
- producing mental or emotional straina tense day
- (of a speech sound) pronounced with considerable muscular effort and having relatively precise accuracy of articulation and considerable durationin English the vowel ( iː ) in ``beam'' is tense Compare lax (def. 4)
- (often foll by up) to make or become tense
- grammar a category of the verb or verbal inflections, such as present, past, and future, that expresses the temporal relations between what is reported in a sentence and the time of its utterance
Word Origin and History for tenses
"to make tense," 1670s, from tense (adj.); intransitive sense of "to become tense" (often tense up) is recorded from 1946. Related: Tensed; tensing.
"stretched tight," 1660s, from Latin tensus, past participle of tendere "to stretch" (see tenet). Sense of "in a state of nervous tension" is first recorded 1821.
"form of a verb showing time of an action or state," early 14c., tens "time," also "tense of a verb" (late 14c.), from Old French tens "time" (11c.), from Latin tempus (see temporal).
An inflectional (see inflection) form of verbs; it expresses the time at which the action described by the verb takes place. The major tenses are past, present, and future. The verb in “I sing” is in the present tense; in “I sang,” past tense; in “I will sing,” future tense. Other tenses are the present perfect (“I have sung”), the past perfect (“I had sung”), and the future perfect (“I will have sung”).