Quantcast
Merriam-Webster Logo
  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
  • Scrabble
  • Spanish Central
  • Learner's Dictionary

tenuous

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

Simple Definition of tenuous

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

  • : very thin

Source: Merriam-Webster's Learner's Dictionary

Full Definition of tenuous

  1. 1 :  not dense :  rare <a tenuous fluid>

  2. 2 :  not thick :  slender <a tenuous rope>

  3. 3a :  having little substance or strength :  flimsy, weak <tenuous influences>b :  shaky 2a <tenuous reasons>

tenuously

adverb

tenuousness

noun

Examples of tenuous in a sentence

  1. 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

  2. After the end of the crusading period, however relations between East and West had grown tenuous … —Albert Hourani, Islam in European Thought, 1991

  3. The authors follow researchers as they use the slimmest leads and the most tenuous connections to track the genes for Huntington's disease, muscular dystrophy, schizophrenia and a host of other physical and mental miseries. —Natalie Angier, New York Times Book Review, 12 Aug. 1990

  4. He has a tenuous grasp on reality.

  5. The local theater has had a tenuous existence in recent years.

  6. He could demonstrate only a tenuous claim to ownership.



Origin and Etymology 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


Learn More about tenuous


Seen and Heard

What made you want to look up tenuous? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).

WORD OF THE DAY

a representation of something

Get Word of the Day daily email!

WORD GAMES

Take a 3-minute break and test your skills!

confounded-person

Which is a synonym of indolent?

frenetic philistine lazy melancholy
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!

TAKE THE QUIZ
SCRABBLE® Sprint

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ