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

Definition of tenable

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

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 For the dirtbag, hygiene is optional, dumbassery is frequent, and a gritty kind of enlightenment might just be tenable. Adrienne Matei, The Atlantic, 26 July 2022 Five Star’s refusal to support the government was enough to convince Draghi that the coalition was no longer tenable. Jason Horowitz, BostonGlobe.com, 14 July 2022 These types of opportunities are inexpensive compared to overall sponsorship, but a more tenable solution for smaller brands. Andrew Faridani, Forbes, 30 June 2022 Is carbon capture a tenable solution to fight climate change? Jennifer Hiller, WSJ, 7 Feb. 2022 After the Holocaust, indulging the unconscious no longer seemed tenable. Washington Post, 9 Nov. 2021 This reluctance to change won’t be tenable for long. Kathy Leake, Forbes, 3 June 2022 And the old-fashioned solution—asking the grandparents to step in as caregivers—is only tenable for about 20% of working mothers, according to a 2013 study. Abby Vesoulis, Time, 7 Apr. 2022 Facing heavy sanctions from the West, Putin now must adjust his goals in Ukraine, given that a full-scale occupation of the country is not currently tenable. Isaac Chotiner, The New Yorker, 8 June 2022 See More

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.

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

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The first known use of tenable was in 1579

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Last Updated

4 Aug 2022

Cite this Entry

“Tenable.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/tenable. Accessed 17 Aug. 2022.

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Nglish: Translation of tenable for Spanish Speakers


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