adj. in·tens·er, in·tens·est
1. Possessing or displaying a distinctive feature to an extreme degree: the intense sun of the tropics.
2. Extreme in degree, strength, or size: intense heat.
3. Involving or showing strain or extreme effort: intense concentration.
a. Deeply felt; profound: intense anger.
b. Having or showing strong feeling or great seriousness: an intense writer.
[Middle English, from Old French, from Latin intēnsus, stretched, intent, from past participle of intendere, to stretch, intend; see INTEND.]
Usage Note: The meanings of intense and intensive overlap considerably, but the two adjectives often have distinct meanings. Intense often suggests a strength or concentration that arises from an inner disposition and is particularly appropriate for describing emotional states: "He wondered vaguely why all this intense feeling went running because of a few burnt potatoes" (D.H. Lawrence). Intensive is more appropriate when the strength or concentration of an activity is imposed from without: "They worked out a system of intensive agriculture surpassing anything I ever heard of, with the very forests all reset with fruit- or nut-bearing trees" (Charlotte Perkins Gilman). Thus a reference to Mark's intense study of German suggests that Mark engaged in concentrated activity, while Mark's intensive study of German suggests the course Mark took was designed to cover a lot of material in a brief period.
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2020 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices
Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:
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