Cambridge Dictionaries online Cambridge Dictionaries online

The most popular online dictionary and thesaurus for learners of English

English definition of “tense”

tense

verb [I or T]     /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.Tight and tightening 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?Anxious and worried Grammar:Types of nounsA noun refers to a person, animal or thing. Some examples are:See more
(Definition of tense verb from the Cambridge Advanced Learner's Dictionary & Thesaurus © Cambridge University Press)
Focus on the pronunciation of tense

Browse related topics

You are looking at an entry to do with Tight and tightening, but you might be interested in these topics from the Weight and firmness topic area:

Definitions of “tense” in other dictionaries

Word of the Day

beneficiary

a person or group who receives money, advantages, etc. as a result of something else

Word of the Day

Blog

Read our blog about how the English language behaves.

Learn More

New Words

Find words and meanings that have just started to be used in English, and let us know what you think of them.

Learn More