tenacious

adjective
te·​na·​cious | \ tə-ˈnā-shəs \

Definition of tenacious

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

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Other Words from tenacious

tenaciously adverb
tenaciousness noun

Choose the Right Synonym for 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

Tenacious Has Latin Roots

For all of its nearly 400 years, "tenacious" has adhered closely to its Latin antecedent: tenax, an adjective meaning "tending to hold fast." Almost from the first, "tenacious" could suggest either literal adhesion or figurative stick-to-itiveness. Sticker burrs are tenacious, and so are athletes who don't let defeat get them down. We use "tenacious" of a good memory, too - one that has a better than average capacity to hold information. But you can also have too much of a good thing. The addition in Latin of the prefix per- ("thoroughly") to "tenax" led to the English word pertinacious, meaning "perversely persistent." You might use "pertinacious" for the likes of rumors and telemarketers, for example.

Examples of tenacious in a Sentence

But raw capitalism has also proved tenacious, evolving its own means of endlessly restimulating consumption … — Nicholas Fraser, Harper's, November 2003 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 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 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 The company has a tenacious hold on the market. a tenacious trainer, she adheres to her grueling swimming schedule no matter what
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Recent Examples on the Web

But this time the appeal had come from Kardashian West, and Holley is not just skilled but tenacious. Jessica Chou, Glamour, "Shawn Holley Will Free You Now," 11 Dec. 2018 So how does an American company learn to play in that kind of tough, tenacious, disrupting market that left nothing alone? Eric Johnson, Recode, "If they don’t want to lose their jobs to a machine, doctors will need to become compassionate ‘human connectors’," 17 Sep. 2018 A few months ago, the tenacious hound also sniffed out 77 kilos of cocaine placed deep inside an industrial machine. Manuel Rueda, Fox News, "Extraordinary drug dog worries Colombian cartel," 27 July 2018 The tenacious midfielder is said to be well liked by Barça coach Ernesto Valverde, with the pair having previously worked together at Athletic Bilbao. SI.com, "Report Claims Man Utd Considering Shock Barcelona Swap Deal Involving Unsettled French Star," 9 July 2018 Egypt, the underdogs going in, played tenacious defense and will be much happier with the 0-0 scoreline. Andrew Keh And Victor Mather, New York Times, "World Cup Heartbreak for Egypt as Salah Sits and Team Falls," 16 June 2018 The usually tenacious defense couldn't slow down Springfield Southeast (29-3). Lamond Pope, Lake County News-Sun, "Dyshawn Gales on North Chicago's semifinal setback to Springfield Southeast: 'You just hate to lose'," 16 Mar. 2018 But the Bulldogs used tenacious defense and clutch offense to shed the Tigers' two-minute bust at the end of the game. USA TODAY, "No. 2 Mississippi State barely edges No. 15 Missouri," 1 Feb. 2018 Over two decades in the public eye, David Meinert has been described as a power broker, a tenacious businessman and an activist. Paige Cornwell, The Seattle Times, "Dave Meinert sexual-misconduct allegations reverberate through Seattle’s music, nightlife, political circles," 10 Aug. 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'tenacious.' 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 tenacious

1607, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for tenacious

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

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Dictionary Entries near tenacious

Ten'a

tenable

tenace

tenacious

tenacity

tenacle

tenaculum

Statistics for tenacious

Last Updated

16 Jan 2019

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Time Traveler for tenacious

The first known use of tenacious was in 1607

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More Definitions for tenacious

tenacious

adjective

English Language Learners Definition of tenacious

: not easily stopped or pulled apart : firm or strong

: continuing for a long time

: very determined to do something

tenacious

adjective
te·​na·​cious | \ tə-ˈnā-shəs \

Kids Definition of tenacious

1 : persistent a tenacious fighter
2 : not easily pulled apart

tenacious

adjective
te·​na·​cious | \ tə-ˈnā-shəs \

Medical Definition of tenacious

: tending to adhere or cling especially to another substance : viscous coughed up 150 cc. of thick tenacious sputumJournal of the American Medical Association

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to gather or build up little by little

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