adjective ten·u·ous \ˈten-yə-wəs, -yü-əs\

: not certain, definite, or strong : flimsy, weak, or uncertain

: very thin

Full Definition of TENUOUS

:  not dense :  rare <a tenuous fluid>
:  not thick :  slender <a tenuous rope>
a :  having little substance or strength :  flimsy, weak <tenuous influences>
b :  shaky 2a <tenuous reasons>
ten·u·ous·ly adverb
ten·u·ous·ness noun

Examples of TENUOUS

  1. He has a tenuous grasp on reality.
  2. The local theater has had a tenuous existence in recent years.
  3. He could demonstrate only a tenuous claim to ownership.
  4. What is also true is that they, and I, were lucky, through genes or fate, to surge through the maelstrom of dashed hope and denied opportunity to grasp a tenuous piece of the American Dream. —Anthony Walton, Lure and Loathing, 1993

Origin of TENUOUS

Latin tenuis thin, slight, tenuous — more at thin
First Known Use: 1597

Synonym Discussion of TENUOUS

thin, slender, slim, slight, tenuous mean not thick, broad, abundant, or dense. thin implies comparatively little extension between surfaces or in diameter, or it may imply lack of substance, richness, or abundance <thin wire> <a thin soup>. slender implies leanness or spareness often with grace and good proportion <the slender legs of a Sheraton chair>. slim applies to slenderness that suggests fragility or scantiness <a slim volume of poetry> <a slim chance>. slight implies smallness as well as thinness <a slight build>. tenuous implies extreme thinness, sheerness, or lack of substance and firmness <a tenuous thread>.

Rhymes with TENUOUS


Next Word in the Dictionary: tenurePrevious Word in the Dictionary: tenulinAll Words Near: tenuous
How to use a word that (literally) drives some people nuts.
Test your vocab with our fun, fast game
Ailurophobia, and 9 other unusual fears