Cambridge Dictionaries online Cambridge Dictionaries online

The most popular online dictionary and thesaurus for learners of English

English definition of “tense”

See all translations

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.
More examples
  • 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?

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.
More examples

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?
Translations of “tense”
in Korean 긴장한, 긴박한…
in Arabic مُتَوَتِّر, قَلِق, مُقْلِق…
in French temps…
in Turkish gergin, sinirli, huzursuz…
in Italian teso…
in Chinese (Traditional) (動詞的)時態…
in Russian напряженный…
in Polish spięty, nerwowy, napięty…
in Spanish tiempo…
in Portuguese tenso…
in German die Zeitform…
in Catalan tens…
in Japanese 緊張した, 気が張り詰めた, (状況などが)緊迫した…
in Chinese (Simplified) (动词的)时态…
(Definition of tense from the Cambridge Advanced Learners Dictionary & Thesaurus © 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

illusion

an idea or belief that is not true

Word of the Day

Lies, lies, lies!

by Kate Woodford,
February 25, 2015
​​​ According to sociologists (=people who study the relationships between people living in groups), we are good at lying. As a species, we have developed a remarkable ability to deceive each other (= persuade each other that something false is true). Being able to say things that are not true can help with

Read More 

showrooming noun

February 23, 2015
the activity of examining a product in a physical store and then making the purchase with an online retailer Amazon’s new smartphone is specifically designed to make showrooming fast and easy.

Read More