Definition of tenacious
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>
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>
Did You Know?
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.
Origin and Etymology of tenacious
Latin tenac-, tenax tending to hold fast, from tenēre to hold
First Known Use: 1607
Synonym Discussion of tenacious
TENACIOUS Defined for English Language Learners
Definition of tenacious for English Language Learners
: not easily stopped or pulled apart : firm or strong
: continuing for a long time
: very determined to do something
TENACIOUS Defined for Kids
Word Root of tenacious
The Latin words tenēre, meaning “to hold,” gives us the roots ten and tain. Words from the Latin tenēre have something to do with holding. Something tenacious holds on and is not easily gotten rid of. To contain is to hold things together inside. To obtain is to get hold of. To retain is to continue to hold.
Seen and Heard
What made you want to look up tenacious? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).