Definition of tense verb from the Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary

  

tense

 verb
verb
BrE BrE//tens//
 
; NAmE NAmE//tens//
 
Verb Forms present simple I / you / we / they tense
BrE BrE//tens//
 
; NAmE NAmE//tens//
 
he / she / it tenses
BrE BrE//ˈtensɪz//
 
; NAmE NAmE//ˈtensɪz//
 
past simple tensed
BrE BrE//tenst//
 
; NAmE NAmE//tenst//
 
past participle tensed
BrE BrE//tenst//
 
; NAmE NAmE//tenst//
 
-ing form tensing
BrE BrE//ˈtensɪŋ//
 
; NAmE NAmE//ˈtensɪŋ//
 
 
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  • [transitive, intransitive] if you tense your muscles, or you or your muscles tense, they become tight and stiff, especially because you are not relaxed tense something/yourself (up) She tensed her muscles in anticipation of the blow. He tensed himself, listening to see if anyone had followed him. Expecting a blow, she tensed every muscle in her body. tense (up) His muscles tensed as he got ready to run. She tensed, hearing the strange noise again.
  • Word Originverb late 17th cent.: from Latin tensus ‘stretched’, from the verb tendere.Idioms to become or feel nervous or worried so that you cannot relax
    See the Oxford Advanced American Dictionary entry: tense