What does tense mean?

Definitions for tense

This dictionary definitions page includes all the possible meanings, example usage and translations of the word tense.

Princeton's WordNet

  1. tenseadjective

    a grammatical category of verbs used to express distinctions of time

  2. tenseadjective

    in or of a state of physical or nervous tension

  3. tenseadjective

    pronounced with relatively tense tongue muscles (e.g., the vowel sound in `beat')

  4. tenseverb

    taut or rigid; stretched tight

    "tense piano strings"

  5. strain, tenseverb

    become stretched or tense or taut

    "the bodybuilder's neck muscles tensed;" "the rope strained when the weight was attached"

  6. tenseverb

    increase the tension on

    "alternately relax and tense your calf muscle"; "tense the rope manually before tensing the spring"

  7. tense, tense upverb

    become tense, nervous, or uneasy

    "He tensed up when he saw his opponent enter the room"

  8. tense, strain, tense upverb

    cause to be tense and uneasy or nervous or anxious

    "he got a phone call from his lawyer that tensed him up"

Samuel Johnson's Dictionary

  1. Tenseadjective

    Stretched; stiff; not lax.

    Etymology: tensus, Lat.

    For the free passage of the sound into the ear, it is requisite that the tympanum be tense, and hard stretched, otherwise the laxness of the membrane will certainly dead and damp the sound. William Holder.

  2. Tensenoun

    In grammar. Tense, in strict speaking, is only a variation of the verb to signify time. Clarke.

    Etymology: temps, Fr. tempus, Lat.

    As foresight, when it is natural, answers to memory, so when methodical it answers to reminiscence, and may be called forecast; all of them expressed in the tenses given to verbs. Memory faith, I did see; reminiscence, I had seen; foresight, I shall see; forecast, I shall have seen. Nehemiah Grew.

    Ladies, without knowing what tenses and participles are, speak as properly and as correctly as gentlemen. John Locke.

    He should have the Latin words given him in their first case and tense, and should never be left to seek them himself from a dictionary. Isaac Watts.


  1. tense

    In grammar, tense is a category used to express the time at which the action or state expressed by a verb occurs. It usually reflects three states: past, present, and future. Some languages have more complex tense systems while others have simpler ones. Overall, tense indicates when an event or action takes place.

Webster Dictionary

  1. Tensenoun

    one of the forms which a verb takes by inflection or by adding auxiliary words, so as to indicate the time of the action or event signified; the modification which verbs undergo for the indication of time

  2. Tenseadjective

    stretched tightly; strained to stiffness; rigid; not lax; as, a tense fiber

Chambers 20th Century Dictionary

  1. Tense

    tens, n. time in grammar, the form of a verb to indicate the time of the action. [O. Fr. tens (Fr. temps)—L. tempus, time.]

  2. Tense

    tens, adj. strained to stiffness: rigid.—adv. Tense′ly.—ns. Tense′ness, state of being tense; Tensibil′ity, Tensil′ity, quality of being tensile.—adjs. Ten′sible, Ten′sile, capable of being stretched.—ns. Ten′sion, act of stretching: state of being stretched or strained: strain: effort: strain in the direction of the length, or the degree of it: mental strain, excited feeling: a strained state of any kind; Ten′sion-rod, a rod in a structure holding together different parts; Ten′sity, tenseness: state of being tense.—adj. Ten′sive, giving the sensation of tenseness or stiffness.—n. Ten′sor, a muscle that tightens a part. [L. tensus, pa.p. of tendĕre, to stretch.]

The New Hacker's Dictionary

  1. tense

    Of programs, very clever and efficient. A tense piece of code often got that way because it was highly tuned, but sometimes it was just based on a great idea. A comment in a clever routine by Mike Kazar, once a grad-student hacker at CMU: “This routine is so tense it will bring tears to your eyes.” A tense programmer is one who produces tense code.

Matched Categories

Anagrams for tense »

  1. teens

  2. steen

How to pronounce tense?

How to say tense in sign language?


  1. Chaldean Numerology

    The numerical value of tense in Chaldean Numerology is: 4

  2. Pythagorean Numerology

    The numerical value of tense in Pythagorean Numerology is: 9

Examples of tense in a Sentence

  1. Robert Barnett:

    It was a tense, tense time, very suspenseful and fraught with heart and strong feelings.

  2. Jose Eustaquio da Silva:

    Everyone is tense, people who live near other dams are tense as well.

  3. Rainer Maria Rilke:

    Who's not sat tense before his own heart's curtain.

  4. Pearl Bailey:

    To talk to someone who does not listen is enough to tense the devil.

  5. Friedrich Nietzsche:

    Existence really is an imperfect tense that never becomes a present.

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Translations for tense

From our Multilingual Translation Dictionary

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"tense." Definitions.net. STANDS4 LLC, 2023. Web. 29 Nov. 2023. <https://www.definitions.net/definition/tense>.

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    a person who pleads for a cause or propounds an idea
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