ten·​ant | \ˈte-nənt \

Definition of tenant 

(Entry 1 of 2)

1a : one who has the occupation or temporary possession of lands or tenements of another specifically : one who rents or leases a dwelling (such as a house) from a landlord

b : one who holds or possesses real estate or sometimes personal property (such as a security) by any kind of right


tenanted; tenanting; tenants

Definition of tenant (Entry 2 of 2)

transitive verb

: to hold or occupy as or as if as a tenant : inhabit

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Other Words from tenant


tenantless \ˈte-​nənt-​ləs \ adjective


tenantable \ˈte-​nən-​tə-​bəl \ adjective

Synonyms & Antonyms for tenant

Synonyms: Noun

boarder, lessee, lodger, renter, roomer

Antonyms: Noun

landlord, lessor, letter

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Tenets vs. Tenants

Thanks to its confusingly similar pronunciation, tenant (“occupant, land-holder”) is sometimes erroneously used in place of tenet (“principle, doctrine”). Consider this example:

One of the ancient tenants of the Buddist [sic] belief is, “He who sits still, wins” –Police, January/February 1968

You will probably never make the opposite mistake (that is, substitute tenet for tenant), but if you think you might, remember that tenant and occupant both end in -ant.

Examples of tenant in a Sentence


A tenant is now leasing the apartment. the laundry in the basement is for tenants only

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

The dominant firm could be the anchor tenant at a shopping mall, for instance, whose presence makes way for smaller businesses offering complementary goods and services. Richard A. Epstein, WSJ, "‘The Curse of Bigness’ Review: Revisiting the Gilded Age," 2 Dec. 2018 The Seahawks, as the stadium’s anchor tenant, made five consecutive playoff appearances from 2012-2016, won a Super Bowl and nearly captured another before falling short in the final seconds. Geoff Baker, The Seattle Times, "Analysis: Why CenturyLink Field is unlikely to be renamed for Paul Allen any time soon," 22 Oct. 2018 View larger map Hen House was an original anchor tenant in the heart of Merriam Town Center, opening in 1998. Joyce Smith, kansascity, "Merriam Town Center to lose Hen House after 20 years," 10 July 2018 Both projects have anchor tenants, though neither is likely to get written up in TechCrunch or Recode. Roland Li, SFChronicle.com, "Eastline, bigger than Salesforce Tower, wants to transform Oakland," 6 July 2018 But an anchor tenant could not be found and renovations would be delayed. Washington Post, "AP news guide: Ford’s plans for Michigan Central station," 17 June 2018 Promises for million-dollar condos and more anchor tenants at Westgate went down the drain. Jen Fifield, azcentral, "GoDaddy founder, who 'doesn't do anything small,' buys Westgate district in Glendale," 12 June 2018 The building will also bring back Citizens Bank, this time as an anchor tenant with a much smaller branch than before. Shawn R. Beals, Courant Community, "Mixed-Use Project On South Main Part Of Larger Middletown Development Trend," 2 June 2018 The company has been unable to reach terms with Stavis Seafoods to serve as one of two anchor tenants for a pair of industrial structures on a 6.8-acre slice of vacant waterfront land. BostonGlobe.com, "The week in business," 2 June 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

So the building’s financial challenges belong, not to tenant Toll, but to its owners and their creditors. Joseph N. Distefano, Philly.com, "Toll Bros. is a highly profitable luxury homebuilder. So how did its Horsham HQ end up in foreclosure?," 7 June 2018 As a landlord, Vision Property Management has had a reputation of not responding promptly to tenant complaints about major problems with its rent-to-own homes. Matthew Goldstein And Alexandra Stevenson, New York Times, "Vision, Operator of Rent-to-Own Homes, Gets Legislative Scrutiny," 13 Mar. 2017

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'tenant.' 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 tenant


14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1b


1634, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for tenant


Middle English, from Anglo-French, from present participle of tenir to hold

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Statistics for tenant

Last Updated

9 Dec 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for tenant

The first known use of tenant was in the 14th century

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More Definitions for tenant



English Language Learners Definition of tenant

: a person, business, group, etc., that pays to use another person's property : someone who rents or leases a house, apartment, etc., from a landlord


ten·​ant | \ˈte-nənt \

Kids Definition of tenant

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: a person or business that rents property from its owner


tenanted; tenanting

Kids Definition of tenant (Entry 2 of 2)

: to hold or live in as a renter


ten·​ant | \ˈte-nənt \

Legal Definition of tenant 

: one who holds or possesses property by any kind of right : one who holds a tenancy in property specifically : one who possesses property in exchange for payment of rent — see also lessee — compare tenancy

History and Etymology for tenant

Anglo-French, from Old French, from present participle of tenir to hold, from Latin tenēre

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More from Merriam-Webster on tenant

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with tenant

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for tenant

Spanish Central: Translation of tenant

Nglish: Translation of tenant for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of tenant for Arabic Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about tenant

Comments on tenant

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a soft lustrous wool fabric with mohair

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