Meaning of “tension” in the English Dictionary

"tension" in British English

See all translations


uk /ˈten.ʃən/ us /ˈten.ʃən/

tension noun (FEELING)

B2 [ U ] a feeling of nervousness before an important or difficult event:

You could feel the tension in the room as we waited for our exam results.

B2 [ C usually plural or U ] a feeling of fear or anger between two groups of people who do not trust each other:

ethnic/racial tension
There are growing tensions between the two countries.

More examples

  • The tension in the office just dissolves when she walks out.
  • After the arrival of the United Nations soldiers, tension in the area began to ease.
  • His speeches fanned the flames of racial tension.
  • Many social workers are in the front line of racial tension.
  • The strong police presence only heightened the tension among the crowd.

(Definition of “tension” from the Cambridge Advanced Learner’s Dictionary & Thesaurus © Cambridge University Press)

"tension" in American English

See all translations

tensionnoun [ U ]

us /ˈten·ʃən/

tension noun [ U ] (STIFF STATE)

the state of being tight and stiff:

We need more tension in the wires, so pull them tighter.

tension noun [ U ] (NERVOUS STATE)

anxiety and worry:

The tension was unbearable as we waited for our exam results.

Tension is also an anxious situation of anger and lack of trust between two groups of people.

(Definition of “tension” from the Cambridge Academic Content Dictionary © Cambridge University Press)