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The tidal field (of the Earth on the Moon, for example) is compressive in the two tangential directions, but stretching in the radial direction. I.e. it pulls at the Moon (towards Earth and in the opposite direction).

What is more appropriate/suitable than stretching here?

EDIT: an antonym for "compression" is "expansion", but is "expansive" appropriate?

  • Can you describe what should go in place of "???" in words, as I'm not really sure what concept you want to express. An opposite of compressive could be expansive; and in longitudinal waves you have compression and rarefaction. But I'm not certain either apply to "tidal fields". – TripeHound Apr 19 '18 at 14:35
  • sounds like a physics site ? – lbf Apr 19 '18 at 14:39
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    @lbf, well it's obviously physics related, but it's the English that I'm struggling with. – Walter Apr 19 '18 at 14:41
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    @TripeHound rarefaction is not exactly an antonym for compression, though in the context of waves, it's antonym for some effect of compression. – Walter Apr 19 '18 at 14:43
  • Then tensive is probably the correct term, but from your comments below, I'm not sure if it's what you want. And you seem to have changed in those comments from wanting an antonym to compressive to one of the process of compression – TripeHound Apr 19 '18 at 14:50
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Dilation. Real-world example from Mid-Ocean Ridges: Dynamics of Processes Associated with the Creation of New Oceanic Crust (emphasis is mine):

The tidal dilation of continental aquifers also acts to displace the water level within the aquifer.

According to Oxford Living Dictionaries, dilate is:

Make or become wider, larger, or more open.

Attribution:

1 Cann, J.R., Cann, J.R., Elderfield, H., Elderfield, H. & Laughton, A.S. (1999). Mid-Ocean Ridges: Dynamics of Processes Associated with the Creation of New Oceanic Crust. Cambridge University Press

2 "Dilate | Definition of Dilate in English by Oxford Dictionaries." Oxford Dictionaries | English. Accessed April 20, 2018. https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/dilate.

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Consider calling it tensile.

tensile adjective 1 Relating to tension. ‘Compressive forces are generally significantly greater than the tensile forces generated in a tensile test.’ - ODO

Your sample sentence would then look like this:

  • The tidal field (of the Earth on the Moon, for example) is compressive in the two tangential directions, but tensile in the radial direction.

The related word tension is an antonym to compression.

tension noun 1 The state of being stretched tight. ‘the parachute keeps the cable under tension as it drops’ - ODO

Here's an example of these two words used as antonyms (terms highlighted here in bold):

The relation between basic and drying creep in tension compared to basic and drying creep in compression was investigated. - Comparison of concrete creep in tension and in compression by Pierre Rossi, Jean-Louis Tailhan and Fabrice Le Maou

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    This is not correct: tension is not an antonym to compression: it describes the state of being stretched, while compression describes a process. – Walter Apr 19 '18 at 14:05
  • @Walter Perhaps the gerund tensioning would be a closer match. – Lawrence Apr 19 '18 at 14:08
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    Hmmm. "tensioning" is IMHO worse than "stretching" (because less known). – Walter Apr 19 '18 at 14:36
  • @Walter Compare “the improper compression of the unit led to problems” with “the improper tensioning of the wires caused them to snap”. Antonyms are notorious for fitting well in one context and badly in others. – Lawrence Apr 19 '18 at 14:42
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    @Walter I've added an example to show tension used as a direct antonym to compression in a published work. – Lawrence Apr 20 '18 at 5:59
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is "expansive" appropriate

Yes, from M-W: https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/expansive

EXPANSIVE

  1. causing or tending to cause expansion

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