American Dictionary of the English Language

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TENSE, adjective tens. [Latin tensus, from tendo, to stretch.] Stretched; strained to stiffness; rigid; not lax; as a tense fiber.

For the free passage of the sound into the ear, it is requisite that the tympanum be tense

TENSE, noun tens. [Latin tempus.] In grammar, time, or a particular form of a verb, or a combination of words, used to express the time of action, or of that which is affirmed; or tense is an inflection of verbs by which they are made to signify or distinguish the time of actions or events.

The primary simple tenses are three; those which express time past, present, and future; but these admit of modifications, which differ in different languages. The English language is rich in tenses, beyond any other language in Europe.