tense Meaning in the Cambridge English Dictionary Cambridge dictionaries logo

Meaning of “tense” in the English Dictionary

"tense" in British English

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tensenoun [C]

uk   us   /tens/
B1 any of the ​forms of a ​verb which show the ​time at which an ​actionhappened: "I ​sing" is in the present tense and "I ​sang" is in the past tense.

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  • How do you say that in the ​future tense?
  • Add -ed to all these ​verbs to put them in the past tense.
  • Which tenses do you ​know already?

tenseadjective

uk   us   /tens/
  • tense adjective (NERVOUS)

B2 nervous and ​worried and ​unable to ​relax: She was very tense as she ​waited for the ​interview.B2 If a ​situation is tense, it ​causesfeelings of ​worry or ​nervousness: There were some tense ​moments in the second ​half of the ​game.

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  • tense adjective ()

specialized phonetics (of a ​speechsound) made with more ​force than other ​speechsounds
Compare
tensely
adverb uk   us   /ˈtens.li/
tenseness
noun [U] uk   us   /ˈtens.nəs/

tenseverb [I or T]

uk   us   /tens/ (also tense up)
If you or ​yourmuscles tense, ​yourmusclesbecomestiff and ​tight because you are ​frightened or ​nervous, or are ​preparing yourself to do something: Don't tense ​yourshoulders, just ​relax. I could ​feel myself tense up as he ​touched my ​neck.tensed up very ​nervous and ​worried and ​unable to ​relax because of something that is going to ​happen: You ​seem all tensed up. Are you still ​waiting for that ​call?
(Definition of tense from the Cambridge Advanced Learner’s Dictionary & Thesaurus © Cambridge University Press)

"tense" in American English

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tenseadjective

 us   /tens/
  • tense adjective (NERVOUS)

anxious, ​unable to ​relax, or causing ​anxiety: She was very tense as she ​waited for the ​interview. The ​family was ​faced with a tense ​financialsituation. If a ​situation is tense, it ​causesfeelings of ​worry or ​anxiety.
  • tense adjective (STIFF)

tight and ​stiff: Relax! Why are you so tense?

tensenoun [C]

 us   /tens/
  • tense noun [C] (VERB FORM)

grammar any of the ​forms of a ​verb which show the ​time at which an ​actionhappened: "I ​sing" is in the ​present tense and ​showsactionhappening now, and "I will ​sing" is in the ​future tense, ​showingaction that will ​happenlater.

tenseverb [I/T]

 us   /tens/
  • tense verb [I/T] (MAKE STIFF)

to make ​yourbody or ​musclestight and ​stiff, or to ​becometight and ​stiff: [T] He tensed his ​body just before ​diving from the high ​board. [I] She tensed up as the ​car went ​faster and ​faster.
(Definition of tense from the Cambridge Academic Content Dictionary © Cambridge University Press)
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