The act or process of stretching something tight. The condition of so being stretched; tautness. A force tending to stretch or elongate something. A measure of such a force: a tension on the cable of 50 pounds. Mental, emotional, or nervous strain: working under great tension to make a deadline. Barely controlled hostility or a strained relationship between people or groups: the dangerous tension between opposing military powers. A balanced relation between strongly opposing elements: "the continuing, and essential, tension between two of the three branches of government, judicial and legislative\u201d ( Haynes Johnson). The interplay of conflicting elements in a piece of literature, especially a poem. A device for regulating tautness, especially a device that controls the tautness of thread on a sewing machine or loom. Electricity Voltage or potential; electromotive force. To subject to tension; tighten.