Cambridge Dictionaries online Cambridge Dictionaries online

The most popular online dictionary and thesaurus for learners of English

English definition of “tense”

tense

adjective  /tens/ us  

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 financial situation. If a situation is tense, it causes feelings of worry or anxiety.

tense adjective (STIFF)

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

tense

noun [C]  /tens/ us  

tense noun [C] (VERB FORM)

grammar any of the forms of a verb which show the time at which an action happened: "I sing" is in the present tense and shows action happening now, and "I will sing" is in the future tense, showing action that will happen later.

tense

verb [I/T]  /tens/ us  

tense verb [I/T] (MAKE STIFF)

to make your body or muscles tight and stiff, or to become tight 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)
What is the pronunciation of tense?
Add Cambridge dictionaries to your browser to your website

Definitions of “tense” in other dictionaries

Word of the Day

mutant

an organism that is different from others of its type because of a permanent change in its genes

Word of the Day

What’s that lovely smell?

by Kate Woodford​,
October 29, 2014
As adult humans, we can distinguish about 10,000 different smells. It’s no wonder, then, that we have so many words and expressions to describe them. This week we’re taking a look at those smell words – words that describe good smells and words that describe bad smells. Most smell words are either

Read More 

high-frequency trading noun

October 27, 2014
a type of stock market trading that uses very complex technology to trade extremely quickly, often making tiny profits which nevertheless add up to substantial sums Lewis’s book, Flash Boys, is driving a huge amount of attention toward the topic of high frequency trading, and it has rekindled some of

Read More