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adjective te·na·cious \tə-ˈnā-shəs\

Simple Definition of tenacious

  • : not easily stopped or pulled apart : firm or strong

  • : continuing for a long time

  • : very determined to do something

Full Definition of tenacious

  1. 1a :  not easily pulled apart :  cohesive <a tenacious metal>b :  tending to adhere or cling especially to another substance <tenacious burs>

  2. 2a :  persistent in maintaining, adhering to, or seeking something valued or desired <a tenacious advocate of civil rights> <tenacious negotiators>b :  retentive <a tenacious memory>

te·na·ci·ous·ly adverb
te·na·cious·ness noun

Examples of tenacious

  1. But raw capitalism has also proved tenacious, evolving its own means of endlessly restimulating consumption … —Nicholas Fraser, Harper's, November 2003

  2. This “Southern Operation” would seal off China from outside help, thus underwriting victory in Japan's frustrating four-year war against Chiang Kai-shek's feckless but tenacious Chinese army. —David M. Kennedy, Atlantic, March 1999

  3. We have been nominally democratic for so long that we presume it is our natural condition rather than the product of persistent effort and tenacious responsibility. —Benjamin R. Barber, Harper's, November 1993

  4. Some people claim that by election day this year François Mitterrand had very little power besides the power of his own tenacious, authoritative, and austere persona. —Jane Kramer, New Yorker, 30 May 1988

  5. The company has a tenacious hold on the market.

  6. <a tenacious trainer, she adheres to her grueling swimming schedule no matter what>

Origin of tenacious

Latin tenac-, tenax tending to hold fast, from tenēre to hold

First Known Use: 1607

Synonym Discussion of tenacious

strong, stout, sturdy, stalwart, tough, tenacious mean showing power to resist or to endure. strong may imply power derived from muscular vigor, large size, structural soundness, intellectual or spiritual resources <strong arms> <the defense has a strong case>. stout suggests an ability to endure stress, pain, or hard use without giving way <stout hiking boots>. sturdy implies strength derived from vigorous growth, determination of spirit, solidity of construction <a sturdy table> <people of sturdy independence>. stalwart suggests an unshakable dependability <stalwart environmentalists>. tough implies great firmness and resiliency <a tough political opponent>. tenacious suggests strength in seizing, retaining, clinging to, or holding together <tenacious farmers clinging to an age-old way of life>.

Medical Dictionary


adjective te·na·cious \tə-ˈnā-shəs\

Medical Definition of tenacious

  1. :  tending to adhere or cling especially to another substance :  viscous <coughed up 150 cc. of thick tenacious sputum—Journal of the American Medical Association>

Seen and Heard

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February 8, 2016

to clear from accusation or blame

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