Definition of tension noun from the Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary



    BrE BrE//ˈtenʃn//
    ; NAmE NAmE//ˈtenʃn//
    Film plots, Social justice, Elements of a story
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  1. 1  [uncountable, countable, usually plural] tension (between A and B) a situation in which people do not trust each other, or feel unfriendly towards each other, and which may cause them to attack each other There is mounting tension along the border. international/racial/political tensions Family tensions and conflicts may lead to violence. The incident has further increased tension between the two countries. See related entries: Social justice
  2. 2[countable, uncountable] tension (between A and B) a situation in which the fact that there are different needs or interests causes difficulties There is often a tension between the aims of the company and the wishes of the employees.
  3. 3  [uncountable] a feeling of anxiety and stress that makes it impossible to relax nervous tension We laughed and that helped ease the tension. Walking and swimming are excellent for releasing tension. a tension headache Synonymspressurestress tension strainThese are all words for the feelings of anxiety caused by the problems in somebody’s life.pressure difficulties and feelings of anxiety that are caused by the need to achieve something or to behave in a particular way:She was unable to attend because of the pressures of work.stress pressure or anxiety caused by the problems in somebody’s life:stress-related illnessespressure or stress?It is common to say that somebody is suffering from stress, while pressure may be the thing that causes stress.tension a feeling of anxiety and stress that makes it impossible to relax:nervous tensionstrain pressure on somebody/​something because they have too much to do or manage; the problems, worry or anxiety that this produces:I found it a strain looking after four children.Patterns to be under pressure/​stress/​strain considerable pressure/​stress/​tension/​strain to cause stress/​tension/​strain to cope with the pressure/​stress/​tension/​strain to relieve/​release the pressure/​stress/​tension/​strain to be suffering from stress/​tension
  4. 4[uncountable] the feeling of fear and excitement that is created by a writer or a film/movie director dramatic tension As the movie progresses the tension builds. Wordfinderdialogue, ending, flashback, plot, narrate, scenario, scene, storyline, tension, twist See related entries: Film plots, Elements of a story
  5. 5[uncountable] the state of being stretched tight; the extent to which something is stretched tight muscular tension Adjust the string tension of your tennis racket to suit your style of playing. When knitting, try to keep the same tension throughout. Massage can relieve tension in your shoulders and back. see also surface tension
  6. Word Originmid 16th cent. (as a medical term denoting a condition or feeling of being physically stretched or strained): from French, or from Latin tensio(n-), from tendere ‘stretch’.Extra examples He suffers from nervous tension. Horses are very sensitive to signs of tension in humans. I feel some tension in my shoulders. In the early 1960’s, new tensions arose between the United States and the USSR. Laughter can be a great release of tension. Money was always a source of tension between her parents. More police have been sent to areas of high political tension. Racial tensions in the town were running high. She often used humour to defuse tension in meetings. Stay clear of cables which are under tension. Tension builds around the mystery of what will happen to Freddie. The hot bath eased the tension in his body. The job losses caused greater tensions within the company. The metal is weak in tension. The movie lacks dramatic tension. The sudden tension on the line told me I had hooked a fish. The tension among the audience was palpable. There has been increased tension over the border incident. This old racket needs its string tension adjusted. renewed tension with France tension between local youths and the police the creative tension between democracy and business interests the use of editing to heighten the tension She was suffering from nervous tension. Walking and swimming are excellent for releasing tensions. international/​racial/​political tensions
See the Oxford Advanced American Dictionary entry: tension