tenses, tensing, tensed, tenser, tensest
1) ADJ-GRADED A tense situation or period of time is one that makes people anxious, because they do not know what is going to happen next.

This gesture of goodwill did little to improve the tense atmosphere at the talks...

After three very tense weeks he phoned again...

There was a tense silence.

2) ADJ-GRADED If you are tense, you are anxious and nervous and cannot relax.

Dart, who had at first been very tense, at last relaxed.

Derived words:
tensely ADV-GRADED usu ADV with v

She waited tensely for the next bulletin...

`Tony, I can explain everything,' she said tensely.

tenseness N-UNCOUNT

McKay walked slowly toward this screen, feeling a growing tenseness.

3) ADJ-GRADED If your body is tense, your muscles are tight and not relaxed.

She lay, eyes shut, body tense...

A bath can relax tense muscles.

Derived words:
tenseness N-UNCOUNT

If you feel a tenseness around the eyes, relax your muscles.

4) V-ERG If your muscles tense, if you tense, or if you tense your muscles, your muscles become tight and stiff, often because you are anxious or frightened.

Newman's stomach muscles tensed...

He tensed as the big West Indian gripped his shoulder...

[V n] Jane tensed her muscles to stop them from shaking.

Tense up means the same as tense.

V P When we are under stress our bodies tend to tense up... V P I tried not to tense up, or become obviously wary... Also V n P V P n (not pron) Tense up the muscles in both of your legs.

5) N-COUNT The tense of a verb group is its form, which usually shows whether you are referring to past, present, or future time. Compare aspect.

It was as though Corinne was already dead: they were speaking of her in the past tense.

Phrasal Verbs:

English dictionary. 2008.

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • Tense — Tense, a. [L. tensus, p. p. of tendere to stretch. See {Tend} to move, and cf. {Toise}.] Stretched tightly; strained to stiffness; rigid; not lax; as, a tense fiber. [1913 Webster] The temples were sunk, her forehead was tense, and a fatal… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • tense — is the location in time of the state or action expressed by a verb. English verbs properly have only two tenses, the present (I stay) and past (I stayed). The future is formed with shall or will (I shall / will stay: see shall and will) or (to… …   Modern English usage

  • Tense — Tense, n. [OF. tens, properly, time, F. temps time, tense. See {Temporal} of time, and cf. {Thing}.] (Gram.) One of the forms which a verb takes by inflection or by adding auxiliary words, so as to indicate the time of the action or event… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Tense — may refer to: *Grammatical tense, the inflection of a verb to indicate whether past, present, or future time is intended *Tenseness, a phonological quality frequently associated with vowels and occasionally with consonants *Tense, a state of… …   Wikipedia

  • tense — Ⅰ. tense [1] ► ADJECTIVE 1) stretched tight or rigid. 2) feeling, causing, or showing anxiety and nervousness. ► VERB ▪ make or become tense. DERIVATIVES tensely adverb tenseness noun …   English terms dictionary

  • tense — tense1 [tens] adj. tenser, tensest [L tensus, pp. of tendere, to stretch < IE * tend < base * ten , to stretch > THIN] 1. stretched tight; strained; taut 2. feeling, showing, or causing mental strain; anxious 3. Phonet. articulated with… …   English World dictionary

  • tense — [adj1] tight, stretched close, firm, rigid, stiff, strained, taut; concepts 485,604 Ant. limp, limpid, loose, relaxed, slack tense [adj2] under stress, pressure agitated, anxious, apprehensive, beside oneself*, bundle of nerves*, choked, clutched …   New thesaurus

  • tense — index rigid Burton s Legal Thesaurus. William C. Burton. 2006 …   Law dictionary

  • tense — adj 1 *tight, taut Analogous words: strained (see corresponding noun at STRAIN): nervous, unquiet, uneasy, jittery (see IMPATIENT) Antonyms: slack 2 *stiff, rigid, inflexible, stark, wooden Analogous words: tough, tenacious, stout (see STRONG):… …   New Dictionary of Synonyms

  • tense — I UK [tens] / US adjective Word forms tense : adjective tense comparative tenser superlative tensest * 1) a) making you feel nervous and not relaxed, usually because you are worried about what is going to happen a tense situation/atmosphere a… …   English dictionary

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