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English definition of “tense”

tense

noun [C] uk   /tens/ us  
B1 any of the forms of a verb which show the time at which an action happened: "I sing" is in the present tense and "I sang" is in the past tense.

tense

adjective uk   /tens/ us  

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 causes feelings of worry or nervousness: There were some tense moments in the second half of the game.

tense adjective (STRETCHED)

(of your body or part of the body) stretched tight and stiff

tense adjective ()

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

tense

verb [I or T] uk   /tens/ (also tense up) us  
If you or your muscles tense, your muscles become stiff and tight because you are frightened or nervous, or are preparing yourself to do something: Don't tense your shoulders, 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 very tensed up. Are you still waiting for that call?
(Definition of tense from the Cambridge Advanced Learners Dictionary & Thesaurus © Cambridge University Press)
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