August 06, 2013
- tense (adjective)
- What does it mean?
- 1 : stretched tight : made taut : rigid2 : feeling or showing nervous tension3 : marked by strain or uncertainty
- How do you use it?
- "They presently entered, softly, with quickened pulses, talking in whispers, ears alert to catch the slightest sound, and muscles tense and ready for instant retreat." (Mark Twain, _The Adventures of Tom Sawyer_)
- Are you a word wiz?
Relax and see if you tell us which word comes from the same Latin root word as "tense.""Tense" and "extend" are both related to the Latin root "tendere," meaning "to stretch." Like "tense" and "extend," members of the "tendere" family tend to have something to do with stretching. For example, a "tent" is a portable shelter made of material that is stretched. Your "tendons" stretch when you move your arms and legs. "Tension" is the act or action of stretching. But being about literal stretching is not required. The "tendere" family also includes words about figurative stretching. "Pretend" ("to give a false appearance"), and "pretense" ("a claim usually not supported by facts") are about stretching the truth.