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tension noun

1 inability to relax

ADJ. inner | emotional, muscle/muscular, nervous, pre-menstrual, sexual He suffers from nervous tension.

VERB + TENSION feel, suffer from I feel some tension in my shoulders. | sense As soon as he entered, he sensed a tension in the air. | cause, create | relieve | release

TENSION + NOUN headache

PREP. ~ in The hot bath eased the tension in his body.

PHRASES a release of tension Laughter can be a great release of tension. | a sign of tension Horses are very sensitive to signs of tension in humans.

2 bad feeling between people, countries, etc.

ADJ. considerable, great, high More police have been sent to areas of high political tension. | slight | growing, heightened, increased, increasing, mounting | constant | unresolved | renewed | ethnic, political, racial, religious, social | communal, family, internal, international, national, regional

VERB + TENSION cause, create, generate | defuse, ease, reduce She often used humour to defuse tension in meetings. | heighten

TENSION + VERB build up, grow, increase, mount, rise | ease | be palpable

PREP. ~ among The tension among the audience was palpable. | ~ between tension between local youths and the police | ~ in/within The redundancies caused greater tensions within the company. | ~ over There has been increased tension over the border incident. | ~ with renewed tension with France

PHRASES a source of tension Money was always a source of tension between her parents.

3 of rope, wire, etc.

ADJ. string

VERB + TENSION adjust This old racket needs its string tension adjusted. | release

PREP. in ~ The metal is weak in tension. | under ~ Stay clear of cables which are under tension. | ~ on The sudden tension on the line told me I had hooked a fish.