tenacious

adjective
te·​na·​cious | \ tə-ˈnā-shəs How to pronounce tenacious (audio) \

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

Keep scrolling for more

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
See More

Recent Examples on the Web

The Supra, however, proved to be more tenacious on the skidpad, hanging on for a remarkable 1.07 g of grip. Andrew Wendler, Car and Driver, "2020 Toyota Supra and Chevrolet Camaro V-6 1LE by the Numbers: A Tale of Two Sixes and an $18K Price Difference," 16 May 2019 Economists were especially alarmed because the increase appeared tenacious. Ernie Tedeschi, New York Times, "Will Employment Keep Growing? Disabled Workers Offer a Clue," 15 Mar. 2018 The restaurant doesn’t even have a website, so only the most tenacious make their way here. Paul Oswell, Condé Nast Traveler, "21 Best Restaurants in New Orleans," 28 Feb. 2018 José Mourinho is a long term admirer of the tenacious Brazilian, and will feel confident of prising the 29-year-old away from Stamford Bridge after capturing Matić in last summer's transfer window. SI.com, "Chelsea Fail to Offload Midfield Flop After Borussia Dortmund Baulk at £53m Asking Price," 6 May 2018 Charles Matthews and point guard Zavier Simpson anchored the team’s tenacious defense, while 7-foot-1 Jon Teske emerged as a significant contributor at both ends of the court. Noah Trister, The Seattle Times, "Another Sweet 16 for Michigan, but no further glory," 29 Mar. 2019 The kinds of people who are most effective in those realms are tenacious and scrappy. Lucy Diavolo, Teen Vogue, "Sean Astin Is Supporting 2018 Midterm Candidates Like Renee Hoagenson Because They Care About the Environment," 2 Nov. 2018 Meanwhile, on Parks and Recreation, Leslie Knope was tenacious and committed to doing the right thing—another distinct show of strength. Anne T. Donahue, Marie Claire, "Even If You Hated Skyler White on Breaking Bad, She Changed TV Forever," 9 Aug. 2018 This gentle, tenacious, adamantine figure has been far too little known in the West—until now. Cynthia Haven, WSJ, "Book Review: Shouldering the Century’s Burden," 25 Jan. 2019

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.

See More

First Known Use of tenacious

1607, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for tenacious

Latin tenāc-, tenāx "holding fast, clinging, persistent" (from tenēre "to hold, occupy, possess" + -āc-, deverbal suffix denoting habitual or successful performance) + -ious — more at tenant entry 1, audacious

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about tenacious

Listen to Our Podcast about tenacious

Dictionary Entries near tenacious

Ten'a

tenable

tenace

tenacious

tenacity

tenacle

tenaculum

Statistics for tenacious

Last Updated

19 Jun 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for tenacious

The first known use of tenacious was in 1607

See more words from the same year

Keep scrolling for more

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 How to pronounce tenacious (audio) \

Kids Definition of tenacious

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

tenacious

adjective
te·​na·​cious | \ tə-ˈnā-shəs How to pronounce tenacious (audio) \

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

Keep scrolling for more

Comments on tenacious

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

WORD OF THE DAY

a device or gadget

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Words for Summer: A Quiz

  • a closeup of a sunflower
  • Which of the following words means “of or relating to summer”?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

TAKE THE QUIZ
Word Winder's CrossWinder

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

TAKE THE QUIZ
Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!