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Tense (?), n. [OF. tens, properly, time, F. temps time, tense. See Temporal of time, and cf. Thing.] (Gram.) One of the forms which a verb takes by inflection or by adding auxiliary words, so as to indicate the time of the action or event signified; the modification which verbs undergo for the indication of time.
&hand_; The primary simple tenses are three: those which express time past, present, and future; but these admit of modifications, which differ in different languages.
Tense, a. [L. tensus, p. p. of tendere to stretch. See Tend to move, and cf. Toise.] Stretched tightly; strained to stiffness; rigid; not lax; as, a tense fiber.
The temples were sunk, her forehead was tense, and a fatal paleness was upon her. Goldsmith.
-- Tense"ly, adv. -- Tense"ness, n.