ten·​a·​ble | \ ˈte-nə-bəl How to pronounce tenable (audio) \

Definition of tenable

: capable of being held, maintained, or defended : defensible, reasonable

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Other Words from tenable

tenability \ ˌte-​nə-​ˈbi-​lə-​tē How to pronounce tenable (audio) \ noun
tenableness noun
tenably \ ˈte-​nə-​blē How to pronounce tenable (audio) \ adverb

Synonyms & Antonyms for tenable



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Hold Onto the Meaning of Tenable

Tenable means "holdable". In the past it was often used in a physical sense—for example, to refer to a city that an army was trying to "hold" militarily against an enemy force. But nowadays it's almost always used when speaking of "held" ideas and theories. If you hold an opinion but evidence appears that completely contradicts it, your opinion is no longer tenable. So, for example, the old ideas that cancer is infectious or that being bled by leeches can cure your whooping cough now seem untenable.

Examples of tenable in a Sentence

the soldiers' encampment on the open plain was not tenable, so they retreated to higher ground the tenable theory that a giant meteor strike set off a chain of events resulting in the demise of the dinosaurs
Recent Examples on the Web Waiting a few more weeks isn’t tenable for some venues and organizations. Anne Nickoloff, cleveland, 10 June 2021 Respecting 'differences of opinion' or avoiding difficult topics in social situations is no longer tenable. Solitaire Townsend, Forbes, 8 June 2021 This isn’t tenable in the long run, and the cracks are already beginning to show. Babu Sivadasan, Forbes, 1 June 2021 But the deadly fighting also appeared to make clear that putting the Palestinian issue on the back burner, as Trump did and Biden hoped to continue, is not tenable. Tracy Wilkinson Staff Writer, Los Angeles Times, 25 May 2021 If the current structure is no longer tenable, that is understandable. Editorial Board, Star Tribune, 17 May 2021 While some employed older workers look forward to retiring when restrictions ease, others say teleworking has made staying on the job more tenable. Liz Weston, Star Tribune, 5 May 2021 From both a data transformation and access perspective, continually updating the transform component of traditional ETL and delaying access to the raw data was no longer tenable. Sachin Smotra, Forbes, 4 May 2021 The time may be approaching when that clever maneuver is no longer tenable. Washington Post, 22 Apr. 2021

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'tenable.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of tenable

1579, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for tenable

borrowed from Middle French, going back to Old French, "capable of being defended against attack," from tenir "to hold, have possession of" + -able -able — more at tenant entry 1

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Time Traveler for tenable

Time Traveler

The first known use of tenable was in 1579

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Statistics for tenable

Last Updated

17 Jun 2021

Cite this Entry

“Tenable.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/tenable. Accessed 19 Jun. 2021.

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English Language Learners Definition of tenable

formal : capable of being defended against attack or criticism

More from Merriam-Webster on tenable

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Nglish: Translation of tenable for Spanish Speakers


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