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tense1

[tens] /tɛns/
adjective, tenser, tensest.
1.
stretched tight, as a cord, fiber, etc.; drawn taut; rigid.
2.
in a state of mental or nervous strain; high-strung; taut:
a tense person.
3.
characterized by a strain upon the nerves or feelings:
a tense moment.
4.
Phonetics. pronounced with relatively tense tongue muscles; narrow.
Compare lax (def 7).
verb (used with object), verb (used without object), tensed, tensing.
5.
to make or become tense.
Origin of tense1
1660-1670
1660-70; < Latin tēnsus past participle of tendere to stretch; see tend1
Related forms
tensely, adverb
tenseness, noun
untensing, adjective

tense2

[tens] /tɛns/
noun
1.
a category of verbal inflection that serves chiefly to specify the time of the action or state expressed by the verb.
2.
a set of such categories or constructions in a particular language.
3.
the time, as past, present, or future, expressed by such a category.
4.
such categories or constructions, or their meanings collectively.
Origin
1275-1325; Middle English tens < Middle French < Latin tempus time
Related forms
tenseless, adjective
tenselessly, adverb
tenselessness, noun
Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for tenses
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • In all the moods and tenses of the little maid the doctor looked for and found reminiscences of her mother.

    The Major Ralph Connor
  • "You are not quite right in your tenses, Austin," she remarked.

    Viviette William J. Locke
  • Each mood has but three tenses which have distinct forms; these are preterit, present, and future.

  • The denotation of the tenses was effected by appropriate signs.

  • He was a very temperamental stenographer and understood the moods and tenses of his most temperamental employer fully.

    Exit Betty Grace Livingston Hill
  • The morning wore on, and tenses and moods gave place to drill.

    An Australian Lassie Lilian Turner
British Dictionary definitions for tenses

tense1

/tɛns/
adjective
1.
stretched or stressed tightly; taut or rigid
2.
under mental or emotional strain
3.
producing mental or emotional strain: a tense day
4.
(of a speech sound) pronounced with considerable muscular effort and having relatively precise accuracy of articulation and considerable duration: in English the vowel () in ``beam'' is tense Compare lax (sense 4)
verb
5.
(often foll by up) to make or become tense
Derived Forms
tensely, adverb
tenseness, noun
Word Origin
C17: from Latin tensus taut, from tendere to stretch

tense2

/tɛns/
noun
1.
(grammar) a category of the verb or verbal inflections, such as present, past, and future, that expresses the temporal relations between what is reported in a sentence and the time of its utterance
Derived Forms
tenseless, adjective
Word Origin
C14: from Old French tens time, from Latin tempus
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for tenses

tense

adj.

"stretched tight," 1660s, from Latin tensus, past participle of tendere "to stretch" (see tenet). Sense of "in a state of nervous tension" is first recorded 1821.

n.

"form of a verb showing time of an action or state," early 14c., tens "time," also "tense of a verb" (late 14c.), from Old French tens "time" (11c.), from Latin tempus (see temporal).

v.

"to make tense," 1670s, from tense (adj.); intransitive sense of "to become tense" (often tense up) is recorded from 1946. Related: Tensed; tensing.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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tenses in Culture

tense definition


An inflectional (see inflection) form of verbs; it expresses the time at which the action described by the verb takes place. The major tenses are past, present, and future. The verb in “I sing” is in the present tense; in “I sang,” past tense; in “I will sing,” future tense. Other tenses are the present perfect (“I have sung”), the past perfect (“I had sung”), and the future perfect (“I will have sung”).

The American Heritage® New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
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Word Value for tenses

6
7
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