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

Yet wolverines are tenacious survivors that still have strongholds in Alaska and parts of western Canada. National Geographic, "As wolverines battle to survive, warming poses a new threat," 11 July 2019 Last year, the genome of the American cockroach was sequenced for the very first time, revealing why the insect is such a tenacious survivor. Fox News, "Cockroaches are getting 'closer to invincibility,' scientists warn," 4 July 2019 Cockroaches are known to be tenacious little pests that taunt humans with their resiliency. Caitlin O'kane, CBS News, "Cockroaches are becoming almost impossible to kill as they build resistance to insecticides, study finds," 2 July 2019 But spirituality’s grip remains tenacious, with the search for meaning merely taking different paths. New York Times, "8 Podcasts for the Spiritual Searcher," 21 June 2019 Johnson said, referring to his tenacious, defense-first mentality. Tom Orsborn, ExpressNews.com, "Spurs’ draft pick Keldon Johnson a ‘really good country kid’," 23 June 2019 But these microbial communities can be beaten down or thrown out of a healthy balance (a condition called dysbiosis) by disturbances like potent antibiotic treatments or particularly tenacious pathogens. Beth Mole, Ars Technica, "One dead after poop transplant gone wrong, FDA warns," 14 June 2019 Don Bolles is gone, but the fearless, tenacious spirit which motivated and sustained him in his work — and in his heroic but losing battle for his life — will live on. AZCentral.com, "Don Bolles loses fight for life: Remembering the reporter with his 1976 obituary," 13 June 2019 Having inherited a decisive, tenacious spirit from Tetisheri, Ahhotep also supported her husband’s fight against the Hyksos occupation in the north. National Geographic, "How three rebel queens of Egypt overthrew an empire and gave birth to a new kingdom," 7 Mar. 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.

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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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Dictionary Entries near tenacious

Ten'a

tenable

tenace

tenacious

tenacity

tenacle

tenaculum

Statistics for tenacious

Last Updated

17 Jul 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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