Meaning of TENSION in English


ten ‧ sion W2 AC /ˈtenʃ ə n/ BrE AmE noun

[ Word Family: noun : ↑ tenseness , ↑ tension ; verb : ↑ tense ; adverb : ↑ tensely ; adjective : ↑ tense ]

[ Date: 1500-1600 ; Language: French ; Origin: Latin tensio , from tendere ; ⇨ ↑ tend ]

1 . NERVOUS FEELING [uncountable] a nervous worried feeling that makes it impossible for you to relax ⇨ tense :

The tension was becoming unbearable, and I wanted to scream.

reduce/relieve/ease etc tension

Exercise is the ideal way to relieve tension after a hard day.

2 . NO TRUST [countable usually plural, uncountable] the feeling that exists when people or countries do not trust each other and may suddenly attack each other or start arguing

political/racial/social etc tension

In those days, there was a great deal of racial tension on campus.

tension between

The obvious tension between Warren and Anne made everyone else uncomfortable.

3 . DIFFERENT INFLUENCES [uncountable and countable] if there is tension between two things, there is a difference between the needs or influences of each, and that causes problems

tension between

In business, there’s always a tension between the needs of customers and shareholders.

4 . TIGHTNESS [uncountable] tightness or stiffness in a wire, rope, muscle etc:

Tension in the neck muscles can cause headaches.

Muscle tension can be a sign of stress.

5 . FORCE [uncountable] the amount of force that stretches something:

This wire will take 50 pounds tension.

tension on

There was a lot of tension on the wire before it snapped.

• • •

COLLOCATIONS (for Meaning 1)

■ adjectives

▪ unbearable

The tension was almost unbearable by the time we reached the decisive last round.

▪ nervous tension

The night before the wedding my mother was in a state of nervous tension.

▪ high tension

There was a moment of high tension as the firemen entered the burning building.

▪ dramatic tension (=the tension you feel when you are not sure quite what will happen in a story)

This uncertainty adds to the film’s dramatic tension.

■ verbs

▪ reduce/ease/relieve tension

Breathing deeply helps to clear my mind and reduce tension.

▪ sense the tension

She could sense the tension in the room.

■ phrases

▪ a state of tension

Marjorie lived in a constant state of tension waiting for his phone calls.

▪ an atmosphere of tension

Voting took place in an atmosphere of tension.

• • •

COLLOCATIONS (for Meaning 2)

■ adjectives

▪ racial tension

Racial tension boiled over and riots quickly spread.

▪ social tension

The economic crisis was accompanied by mounting social tension.

▪ political tension

The heightened political tension could easily spill over into violence.

▪ tension is/remains high

After the election, political tension remains high.

▪ increasing/growing/mounting/rising tension

There are reports of increasing tension in some areas.

▪ heightened tension (=greater than before)

a time of heightened tension between the two countries

■ verbs

▪ defuse tension (=make a situation more friendly)

He searched for ways of defusing racial tension.

▪ raise/increase the tension

The arrests only served to raise the tension.

■ phrases

▪ a source of tension

This agreement should remove a major source of tension among America’s allies.

Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English.      Longman - Словарь современного английского языка.