(noun, verb)


1. (psychology) a state of mental or emotional strain or suspense

- he suffered from fatigue and emotional tension

Similar word(s): stress, tenseness

Definition categories: state, strain

2. the physical condition of being stretched or strained

- it places great tension on the leg muscles

- he could feel the tenseness of her body

Similar word(s): tautness, tenseness, tensity

Definition categories: state, condition, status

3. a balance between and interplay of opposing elements or tendencies (especially in art or literature)

- there is a tension created between narrative time and movie time

- there is a tension between these approaches to understanding history

Definition categories: state, balance

4. (physics) a stress that produces an elongation of an elastic physical body

- the direction of maximum tension moves asymptotically toward the direction of the shear

Definition categories: phenomenon, stress

5. feelings of hostility that are not manifest

- he could sense her latent hostility to him

- the diplomats' first concern was to reduce international tensions

Definition categories: state, antagonism, enmity, hostility

6. the action of stretching something tight

- tension holds the belt in the pulleys

Definition categories: act, stretching


1. To place an object in tension, to pull or place strain on.

- We tensioned the cable until it snapped.