tense - definition in the British English Dictionary & Thesaurus - Cambridge Dictionaries Online (US)

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   us   /tens/
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   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 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   us   /ˈtens.li/
tenseness
noun [U] uk   us   /ˈtens.nəs/

tense

verb [I or T] uk   us   /tens/ (also tense up)
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)
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

lateral thinking

a way of solving a problem by thinking about it in a different and original way and not using traditional or expected methods

Word of the Day

What’s All The Commotion About? (Words to describe sounds)

by Kate Woodford,
May 20, 2015
​​​ In this post we look at a range of words and phrases that we use to describe noise and the absence of noise. Starting with complete quiet, we sometimes use the noun hush to describe silence: A hush fell over the room as the bride walked in./There was a deathly hush (=complete

Read More 

plyscraper noun

May 18, 2015
a skyscraper made mainly from wood The development of engineered timber could herald a new era of eco-friendly ‘plyscrapers’. Christchurch welcomed its first multistorey timber structure this year, there are plans for Vancouver, and the talk is China could follow

Read More