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

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 Another tenacious defender off the bench is sophomore Devon Goodman (Germantown Academy), who often replaces Woods. Marc Narducci, Philly.com, "Penn-Kansas March madness preview: Can the Quakers pull off the upset?," 14 Mar. 2018 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

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

13 Mar 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 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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Comments on tenacious

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