the act of stretching or straining.
the state of being stretched or strained.
mental or emotional strain; intense, suppressed suspense, anxiety, or excitement.
a strained relationship between individuals, groups, nations, etc.
(not in current use) pressure, especially of a vapor.
the longitudinal deformation of an elastic body that results in its elongation.
the force producing such deformation.
Electricity. electromotive force; potential.
Machinery. a device for stretching or pulling something.
a device to hold the proper tension on the material being woven in a loom.
verb (used with object)
to subject (a cable, belt, tendon, or the like) to tension, especially for a specific purpose.

1525–35; < Latin tēnsiōn- (stem of tēnsiō) a stretching. See tense1, -ion

tensional, adjective
tensionless, adjective
overtension, noun
supertension, noun
Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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World English Dictionary
tension (ˈtɛnʃən)
1.  the act of stretching or the state or degree of being stretched
2.  mental or emotional strain; stress
3.  a situation or condition of hostility, suspense, or uneasiness
4.  physics a force that tends to produce an elongation of a body or structure
5.  physics
 a.  voltage, electromotive force, or potential difference
 b.  (in combination): high-tension; low-tension
6.  a device for regulating the tension in a part, string, thread, etc, as in a sewing machine
7.  knitting the degree of tightness or looseness with which a person knits
[C16: from Latin tensiō, from tendere to strain]

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
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Word Origin & History

1533, "a stretched condition," from M.Fr. tension, from L. tensionem (nom. tensio) "a stretching" (in M.L. "a struggle, contest"), from tensus, pp. of tendere "to stretch," from PIE base *ten- "stretch" (see tenet). The sense of "nervous strain" is first recorded 1763. The
meaning "electromotive force" (in high-tension wires) is recorded from 1802.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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American Heritage
Medical Dictionary

tension ten·sion (těn'shən)
Abbr. T

  1. The act or process of stretching something tight.

  2. The condition of so being stretched.

  3. A force tending to stretch or elongate something.

  4. The partial pressure of a gas, especially dissolved in a liquid such as blood.

  5. Mental, emotional, or nervous strain.

  6. Barely controlled hostility or a strained relationship between people or groups.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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American Heritage
Science Dictionary
tension   (těn'shən)  Pronunciation Key 
  1. A force that tends to stretch or elongate something.

  2. An electrical potential (voltage), especially as measured in electrical components such as transformers or power lines involved in the transmission of electrical power.

The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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Example sentences
The shrill ring of the block-sheaves indicates a tension that is not far from
It has been suggested that this phenomenon may be explained by alteration in
  surface tension.
The first factor is the expectancy of danger which expresses itself in
  heightened sensory attention and in motor tension.
Overhead the sky was half crystalline, half misty, and the night around was
  chill and vibrant with rich tension.
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