Definition of tension in English:


Syllabification: ten·sion
Pronunciation: /ˈtenSHən


  • 1The state of being stretched tight: the parachute keeps the cable under tension as it drops
    More example sentences
    • The competing forces of gravity at the lower end and outward centripetal acceleration at the farther end keep the cable under tension.
    • In string theory, as in guitar playing, the string must be stretched under tension in order to become excited.
    • I then dial in the cable tension so it lets the chain drop easily to the inner ring and not rub on the cage when on the largest cog.
  • 1.1The state of having the muscles stretched tight, especially as causing strain or discomfort: the elimination of neck tension can relieve headaches
    More example sentences
    • Participants were taught to perform the techniques independently from the fifth week and to avoid unnecessary tension in the neck muscles.
    • One-minute breaks every 20 minutes or so can help relieve tension and loosen stiff muscles.
    • During a massage, your practitioner kneads your skin, muscles and tendons in an effort to relieve muscle tension and stress and promote relaxation.
  • 1.2A strained state or condition resulting from forces acting in opposition to each other.
    More example sentences
    • The water going down your plughole, the planets going around the sun, the electrons spinning around a nucleus, they all reflect the same dynamic tension between opposing forces.
    • An answer was provided by inflation: the idea that the universe was born in a state of tension, forcing it to expand enormously fast.
    • Controlling the oil in the crankcase significantly reduces ring tension to unlock even more power by minimizing friction.
  • 1.3The degree of tightness of stitches in knitting and machine sewing.
    More example sentences
    • Test on fabric scraps for the best tension and stitch length.
    • Uneven stitches usually indicate the tension is out of balance.
    • Observe the stitch, adjusting the tension until the stitch is formed correctly.
  • 1.4Electromotive force.
    More example sentences
    • Tsagas found that the magnetic tension in bent magnetic field lines tends to flatten the surrounding space.
    • Researchers believe this tension results in stripes that are stable under magnetic fields of a certain strength.
    • It's the electromagnetic tension field, not the power that stand for the interdimensional interaction.
  • 2Mental or emotional strain: a mind that is affected by stress or tension cannot think as clearly
    More example sentences
    • Mental tension and physical stress are not needed when you are vulnerable and sensitive to pressures of any kind.
    • Motherwort is reputed to release tension caused by emotional and mental stress.
    • You need to avoid mental tension and stress as they can manifest health problems.
    strain, stress, anxiety, pressure; worry, apprehensiveness, apprehension, agitation, nerves, nervousness, jumpiness, edginess, restlessness; suspense, uncertainty, anticipation, excitement
    informal heebie-jeebies, butterflies (in one's stomach), collywobbles
  • 2.1A strained political or social state or relationship: the coup followed months of tension between the military and the government racial tensions
    More example sentences
    • When food and fuel subsidies go, people riot and social tensions stoke the flames.
    • This has already had the effect of increasing tensions and is fomenting political hatred.
    • As a result there were tensions in the relationship, which involved regular arguments.
    strained relations, strain; ill feeling, friction, antagonism, antipathy, hostility, enmity
  • 2.2A relationship between ideas or qualities with conflicting demands or implications: the basic tension between freedom and control
    More example sentences
    • There has often been tension between conflicting ideas about the scope of EU competence and the policy-making process.
    • There is a basic tension between the idea of the rule of law and other aspects of the Constitution which still reflect an alternative principle that the law must serve the party state.
    • Herein lies the primary tension between the two conflicting and apparently contradictory trends regarding immigration throughout the west.


[with object] Back to top  
  • Apply a force to (something) that tends to stretch it.
    More example sentences
    • Concrete can be prestressed in a factory by tensioning the steel reinforcement first and then placing concrete around it - ‘pre-tensioned’ reinforcement.
    • This is so the tendons pick up the deflection caused by the weight of the concrete when they are tensioned.
    • Gable end facade hanger cables are tensioned against the main roof cables, above top left.



More example sentences
  • The potential energy of an uplift produces tensional stresses which can lead to gravity-driven extensional collapse.
  • It may be that incorrect or confusing early experiences have interfered with their ability to recognize hunger and satiation, resulting in their inability to differentiate hunger from other tensional states.
  • The spindle fiber organs determine the resting tensional length of the muscle, acting as a ‘thermostat’ for tension within the muscle.


Pronunciation: /-SHənl-ē/
More example sentences
  • The Leonardo sketch of one of his hang gliders had a tensionally hung standing pilot with a triangle control bar.
  • The harness member can be tensionally adjusted to the height and girth of the user.
  • It should be noted, however, that Fielder and I only concluded that the lunar surface was tensionally stressed at the time when certain lunar craters were formed.


More example sentences
  • If the vehicle rolls, the car triggers the side airbags and seat belt tensioners to help protect occupants.
  • When his Fiat's cam-belt tensioner began giving problems he solved it - for a time - with the help of an old shopping trolley wheel.
  • In order to prevent the pipe buckling at the sagbend a horizontal tension was applied to the pipe by tensioners situated on the deck of the vessel.


More example sentences
  • While getting tensionless, deep and well relaxed sleep, the individual can produce more and feel great doing it.
  • After the formation of the bilayer we allowed the bilayer to adopt a tensionless configuration by applying both DPD and Monte Carlo, in which the area of the bilayer is changed.


mid 16th century (as a medical term denoting a condition or feeling of being physically stretched or strained): from French, or from Latin tensio(n-), from tendere 'stretch'.

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