tense Definition in the Cambridge English Dictionary
Cambridge Dictionaries online Cambridge Dictionaries online

The most popular online dictionary and thesaurus for learners of English

Definition of “tense” - English Dictionary

Definition of "tense" - American English Dictionary

See all translations

tenseadjective

 us   /tens/

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 ​financialsituation. If a ​situation is tense, it ​causesfeelings of ​worry or ​anxiety.

tense adjective (STIFF)

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

tensenoun [C]

 us   /tens/

tense noun [C] (VERB FORM)

grammar any of the ​forms of a ​verb which show the ​time at which an ​actionhappened: "I ​sing" is in the ​present tense and ​showsactionhappening now, and "I will ​sing" is in the ​future tense, ​showingaction that will ​happenlater.

tenseverb [I/T]

 us   /tens/

tense verb [I/T] (MAKE STIFF)

to make ​yourbody or ​musclestight and ​stiff, or to ​becometight 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)

Definition of "tense" - British English Dictionary

See all translations

tensenoun [C]

uk   us   /tens/
B1 any of the ​forms of a ​verb which show the ​time at which an ​actionhappened: "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?

tenseadjective

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 ​causesfeelings of ​worry or ​nervousness: There were some tense ​moments in the second ​half of the ​game.
More examples

tense adjective (STRETCHED)

(of ​yourbody or ​part of the ​body) ​stretchedtight and ​stiff

tense adjective ()

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

tenseverb [I or T]

uk   us   /tens/ (also tense up)
If you or ​yourmuscles tense, ​yourmusclesbecomestiff and ​tight because you are ​frightened or ​nervous, or are ​preparing yourself to do something: Don't tense ​yourshoulders, 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 all 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
Word of the Day

harvest

to pick and collect crops, or to collect plants, animals, or fish to eat

Word of the Day

Meerkat meme
Meerkat meme
by Colin McIntosh,
September 03, 2015
Meerkats are not new to popular culture (they appear in the folk tales of the San people of the Kalahari), but their arrival in the public’s consciousness, at least in the UK and the US, is a relatively recent phenomenon. Meerkats are small, sociable Southern African mammals that live in large family

Read More 

parklet noun
parklet noun
August 31, 2015
a public outdoor space that may be associated with a local business but where anyone can sit Pop-up cafes in NY are what’s actually called parklets in many other places around the country.

Read More