noun Medicine/Medical.
  1. a self-operated portable device used to treat chronic pain by sending electrical impulses through electrodes placed over the painful area.

Origin of TENS

t(ranscutaneous) e(lectrical) n(erve) s(timulator)


  1. a cardinal number, nine plus one.
  2. a symbol for this number, as 10 or X.
  3. a set of this many persons or things.
  4. a playing card with ten pips.
  5. Informal. a ten-dollar bill: She had two tens and a five in her purse.
  6. Also called ten's place. Mathematics.
    1. (in a mixed number) the position of the second digit to the left of the decimal point.
    2. (in a whole number) the position of the second digit from the right.
  1. amounting to ten in number.
  1. take ten, Informal. to rest from what one is doing, especially for ten minutes.

Origin of ten

before 900; Middle English ten(e), tenn(e), Old English tēn(e), tīen(e); cognate with Dutch tien, German zehn, Old Norse tīu, Gothic taihun, Latin decem, Greek déka, Sanskrit daśa
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for tens

Contemporary Examples of tens

Historical Examples of tens

  • By tens and hundreds of thousands they had already gone to the front.

    The Harbor

    Ernest Poole

  • Are there not tens of thousands with us mourning the lack of the power of intercession?

  • But in tens of thousands of years this part of war hadn't changed.

    Two Timer

    Fredric Brown

  • If you form a judgment, thousands and tens of thousands are ready to maintain the opposite.

  • Thousands and tens of thousands have read it and admired it.

    Faro Nell and Her Friends

    Alfred Henry Lewis

British Dictionary definitions for tens


n acronym for
  1. transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation: the application of low-voltage electric impulses to the skin to relieve rheumatic pain and provide some pain relief in labour. The pulses are said to stimulate the release of pain-killing endorphins


  1. the cardinal number that is the sum of nine and one. It is the base of the decimal number system and the base of the common logarithmSee also number (def. 1)
  2. a numeral, 10, X, etc, representing this number
  3. something representing, represented by, or consisting of ten units, such as a playing card with ten symbols on it
  4. Also called: ten o'clock ten hours after noon or midnight
    1. amounting to tenten tigers
    2. (as pronoun)to sell only ten
Related formsRelated adjective: decimalRelated prefixes: deca-, deci-

Word Origin for ten

Old English tēn; related to Old Saxon tehan, Old High German zehan, Gothic taihun, Latin decem, Greek deka, Sanskrit dasa
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for tens



Old English ten (Mercian), tien (West Saxon), from Proto-Germanic *tekhan (cf. Old Saxon tehan, Old Norse tiu, Danish ti, Old Frisian tian, Old Dutch ten, Dutch tien, Old High German zehan, German zehn, Gothic taihun "ten").

The Germanic words are from PIE *dekm (cf. Sanskrit dasa, Avestan dasa, Armenian tasn, Greek deka, Latin decem, Old Church Slavonic deseti, Lithuanian desimt, Old Irish deich, Breton dek, Welsh deg, Albanian djetu "ten").

Tenner "ten-pound note" is slang first recorded 1861; as "ten-dollar bill," 1887 (ten-spot in this sense dates from 1848). The ten-foot pole that you wouldn't touch something with (1909) was originally a 40-foot pole; the idea is the same as the advice to use a long spoon when you dine with the devil. Ten-four "I understand, message received," is attested in popular jargon from 1962, from use in CB and police radio 10-code (in use in U.S. by 1950).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

tens in Medicine


  1. Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation; a technique used to relieve pain in an injured or diseased part of the body in which electrodes applied to the skin deliver intermittent stimulation to surface nerves and block the transmission of pain signals.


  1. toxic epidermal necrolysis
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.

Idioms and Phrases with tens


see count to ten; not touch with a ten-foot pole.

The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.