tense

When something's stretched tight, it's tense. A rope can be tense. So can a muscle. When a person's tense, they're anxious.

When a situation is tense, you might say you could "cut the tension with a knife." When a muscle tenses up, it contracts suddenly–-a person can be said to tense up also. The opposite of tense is "relaxed." If you tense up during exams, it's probably best to learn some relaxation techniques. The brain works best when it's relaxed.

Definitions of tense
  1. adjective
    taut or rigid; stretched tight
    tense piano strings”
    Synonyms:
    tight
    closely constrained or constricted or constricting
    overstrung
    too tightly strung
    taut, tight
    pulled or drawn tight
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    Antonyms:
    lax
    lacking in strength or firmness or resilience
    loose
    not tight; not closely constrained or constricted or constricting
    drooping, droopy, sagging
    hanging down (as from exhaustion or weakness)
    limp
    lacking in strength or firmness or resilience
    floppy
    hanging limply
    loose, slack
    not tense or taut
    loose-jointed
    loosely articulated or constructed
    tensionless
    free from tension
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  2. adjective
    in or of a state of physical or nervous tension
    Synonyms:
    agitated
    troubled emotionally and usually deeply
    uneasy
    lacking a sense of security or affording no ease or reassurance
    aroused, wound up
    brought to a state of great tension
    cliff-hanging, nail-biting, suspenseful, suspensive
    (of a situation) characterized by or causing suspense
    taut
    subjected to great tension; stretched tight
    antsy, fidgety, fretful, itchy
    nervous and unable to relax
    edgy, high-strung, highly strung, jittery, jumpy, nervy, overstrung, restive, uptight
    being in a tense state
    electric
    (of a situation) exceptionally tense
    isotonic
    of two or more muscles; having equal tension
    nervous
    easily agitated
    strained
    showing signs of mental and emotional tension
    unrelaxed
    nor relaxed
    pumped, pumped up, pumped-up, wired
    tense with excitement and enthusiasm as from a rush of adrenaline
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    Antonyms:
    relaxed
    without strain or anxiety
    unagitated
    not agitated or disturbed emotionally
    easy
    free from worry or anxiety
    degage
    free and relaxed in manner
    laid-back, mellow
    unhurried and relaxed
    unstrained
    not placed under psychological stress
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  3. adjective
    pronounced with relatively tense tongue muscles (e.g., the vowel sound in `beat')
    Synonyms:
    constricted
    especially tense; especially in some dialects
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    Antonyms:
    lax
    pronounced with muscles of the tongue and jaw relatively relaxed (e.g., the vowel sound in `bet')
  4. verb
    become stretched or tense or taut
    “the bodybuilder's neck muscles tensed
    synonyms: strain
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    type of:
    tighten
    become tight or tighter
  5. verb
    increase the tension on
    “alternately relax and tense your calf muscle”
    tense the rope manually before tensing the spring”
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    type of:
    alter, change, modify
    cause to change; make different; cause a transformation
  6. verb
    become tense, nervous, or uneasy
    “He tensed up when he saw his opponent enter the room”
    synonyms: tense up
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    Antonyms:
    decompress, loosen up, relax, slow down, unbend, unwind
    become less tense, rest, or take one's ease
    type of:
    change state, turn
    undergo a transformation or a change of position or action
  7. verb
    cause to be tense and uneasy or nervous or anxious
    “he got a phone call from his lawyer that tensed him up”
    synonyms: strain, tense up
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    Antonyms:
    loosen up, make relaxed, relax, unlax, unstrain, unwind
    cause to feel relaxed
    types:
    extend, stretch
    extend one's limbs or muscles, or the entire body
    spread-eagle
    stretch out completely
    crane, stretch out
    stretch (the neck) so as to see better
    type of:
    affect
    act physically on; have an effect upon
  8. noun
    a grammatical category of verbs used to express distinctions of time
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    types:
    show 14 types...
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    present, present tense
    a verb tense that expresses actions or states at the time of speaking
    aorist
    a verb tense in some languages (classical Greek and Sanskrit) expressing action (especially past action) without indicating its completion or continuation
    past, past tense
    a verb tense that expresses actions or states in the past
    future, future tense
    a verb tense that expresses actions or states in the future
    continuous tense, imperfect, imperfect tense, progressive, progressive tense
    a tense of verbs used in describing action that is on-going
    perfect, perfect tense, perfective, perfective tense
    a tense of verbs used in describing action that has been completed (sometimes regarded as perfective aspect)
    historical present
    the use of the present tense to describe past actions or states
    present progressive, present progressive tense
    a tense used to express action that is on-going at the time of utterance
    present perfect, present perfect tense
    a perfective tense used to express action completed in the present
    preterit, preterite
    a term formerly used to refer to the simple past tense
    past perfect, past perfect tense, pluperfect, pluperfect tense
    a perfective tense used to express action completed in the past
    past progressive, past progressive tense
    a progressive tense used to describe on-going action in the past
    future perfect, future perfect tense
    a perfective tense used to describe action that will be completed in the future
    future progressive, future progressive tense
    a progressive tense used to express action that will be on-going in the future
    type of:
    grammatical category, syntactic category
    (grammar) a category of words having the same grammatical properties
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