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Definition of "tense" []

  • Tightly stretched; taut. See Synonyms at stiff, tight. (adjective)
  • In a state of mental or nervous tension. (adjective)
  • Characterized by nervous tension or suspense. (adjective)
  • Linguistics Enunciated with taut muscles, as the sound (ē) in keen. (adjective)
  • To make or become tense. (verb-transitive)

American Heritage(R) Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition. Copyright (c) 2011 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

Use "tense" in a sentence
  • "Mom backed away, and Grandma sat down again, her expression tense and frightened."
  • "The word tense at this juncture would be a grave understatement."
  • "To millions of schoolchildren, the word tense meant only how you felt before a pop quiz."