- 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
Related Words for tensestrained, nervous, shaky, edgy, anxious, uneasy, apprehensive, agitated, jittery, restive, excited, stressful, firm, close, stiff, wired, shot, wreck, concerned, moved
Examples from the Web for tense
Contemporary Examples of tense
A tense commute to work in Houston will start to resemble a tense commute in Boston or New York City.Will Texas Stay Texan?
December 29, 2014
Elisabetta Piqué, who knew Bergoglio well as a cardinal, writes in the present tense as if to convey real time passing.How Pope Francis Became the World’s BFF
December 21, 2014
Since Nestdrop continues to do so as of this writing, they wager a tense gamble that the odds will be in their favor.Days Are Numbered for Nestdrop, LA’s ‘Uber for Weed’
December 6, 2014
Rioting and looting ensued shortly after the verdict and racial tensions were tense across the United States for years to follow.It’s Time to Hold Protesters Accountable
December 4, 2014
But so many years later, I still get a tense feeling in my stomach when I see a strong storm approaching.Heed the Warnings: Why We’re on the Brink of Mass Extinction
Sean B. Carroll
November 30, 2014
Historical Examples of tense
Instead, only a tense horror that touched to the roots of emotion.Within the Law
"I don't understand this," said Linda, white lipped and tense.Her Father's Daughter
They stood before him palpitating like birds, poised, tense for flight.The Leopard Woman
Stewart Edward White
How tense they both had been, how afraid of each other, how she had irritated him!Dust
Mr. and Mrs. Haldeman-Julius
The irregularity of the proceeding was unnoticed in the tense excitement.The Underdog
F. Hopkinson Smith
- 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
Word Origin for 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 for tense
Word Origin and History for tense
"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).
"to make tense," 1670s, from tense (adj.); intransitive sense of "to become tense" (often tense up) is recorded from 1946. Related: Tensed; tensing.
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”).