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

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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 Despite suffering through a 5:02 scoring drought that included multiple shot-clock violations, the Blazers were able to drain clock and secure the Game 1 win with a tenacious defensive performance. Evan Dudley, al, "UAB cruises to 61-37 win over Charlotte," 16 Jan. 2021 Many of them fell sick, including Erwin Lambrento, a tenacious night shift nurse from the outskirts of Manila who died of the virus in early May. Pictures of him still hang throughout Elmhurst Hospital Center, where Ms. Ellis works. New York Times, "‘It’s Starting Again’: Why Filipino Nurses Dread the Second Wave," 15 Jan. 2021 Stephen Curry, Draymond Green, Kelly Oubre Jr., Andrew Wiggins and James Wiseman showcased tenacious defense and raced out to efficient and entertaining offense Wednesday night in a 121-99 drubbing of San Antonio at Chase Center. Rusty Simmons, SFChronicle.com, "Steve Kerr’s persistence pays dividends as Warriors’ starting lineup shines," 21 Jan. 2021 If the hackers are indeed from Russia's SVR foreign intelligence agency, as experts believe, their resistance may be tenacious. Arkansas Online, "Pompeo says Russia 'pretty clearly' behind cyberattack on U.S.," 19 Dec. 2020 If the hackers are indeed from Russia’s SVR foreign intelligence agency, as experts believe, their resistance may be tenacious. Frank Bajak, chicagotribune.com, "Secretary of state says Russia ‘pretty clearly’ behind major cyberattack on US government, industry; Trump silent," 19 Dec. 2020 The sky had turned a tenacious gray, the rain sheeting sideways. Ann Patchett, Harper's Magazine, "These Precious Days," 5 Jan. 2021 As Pixar movies become increasingly convoluted and emotionally manipulative, this underrated gem is refreshing in its simple premise, slapstick humor and endearing cast of tenacious ants and quirky circus bugs. Patrick Ryan, USA TODAY, "The definitive ranking of all 23 Pixar movies (including 'Soul')," 29 Dec. 2020 Scientists describe the four-legged engineers as smart, tenacious, usually busy. Morgan Greene, chicagotribune.com, "Illinois’ largest rodents are in city lagoons, rivers and streams. Now, they’re on Instagram and TikTok, thanks to pandemic-weary Chicagoans.," 29 Dec. 2020

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 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

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Time Traveler for tenacious

Time Traveler

The first known use of tenacious was in 1607

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Last Updated

19 Feb 2021

Cite this Entry

“Tenacious.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/tenacious. Accessed 26 Feb. 2021.

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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 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

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