American English

Definition of tense adjective from the Oxford Advanced American Dictionary



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  1. 1(of a person) nervous or worried, and unable to relax He's a very tense person. She sounded tense and angry.
  2. 2(of a situation, an event, a period of time, etc.) in which people have strong feelings such as worry, anger, etc. that often cannot be expressed openly I spent a tense few weeks waiting for the results of the tests. The atmosphere in the meeting was getting more and more tense.
  3. 3(of a muscle or other part of the body) tight rather than relaxed A massage will relax those tense muscles.
  4. 4(of wire, etc.) stretched tightly synonym taut
  5. 5(phonetics) (of a speech sound) produced with the muscles of the speech organs stretched tight opposite lax
    noun [uncountable]
See the Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary entry: tense