tenant

noun
ten·​ant | \ ˈte-nənt How to pronounce tenant (audio) \

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

tenant

verb
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

Noun

tenantless \ ˈte-​nənt-​ləs How to pronounce tenantless (audio) \ adjective

Verb

tenantable \ ˈte-​nən-​tə-​bəl How to pronounce tenantable (audio) \ 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

Noun

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

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

More fitness and health tenants are on the way in Valley Fair’s new wing, which is set to open next year. Roland Li, SFChronicle.com, "Retail isn’t dead: Two shopping centers on list of Bay Area’s most valuable buildings," 29 Aug. 2019 The second tenant was a young woman who was also single and a mom. Roy S. Johnson | Rjohnson@al.com, al, "Johnson: From Section 8 to homeowner, ‘It’s supposed to be a steppingstone’, not a dependency," 29 Aug. 2019 John Schoditsch, a principal with Kensington Development Partners, one of the developers behind the project, said the majority of anchor tenants’ leases have been executed and some tenants are in various stages of lease negotiations. Daniel I. Dorfman, chicagotribune.com, "Morton Grove announces stores, signed leases for Sawmill Station," 27 Aug. 2019 The main tenants are Pizza Hut, McDonald’s and cavernous family-style restaurants selling live fish squirming in water tanks, waiting to be cooked. New York Times, "At Mao’s Beach, China’s Leaders Still Make History as Lifeguards Hide From the Sun," 22 Aug. 2019 The main tenants are Pizza Hut, McDonald’s and cavernous family-style restaurants selling live fish squirming in water tanks, waiting to be cooked. Jane Perlez, BostonGlobe.com, "At Mao’s beach, China’s leaders still make history as lifeguards hide from the sun," 22 Aug. 2019 WeWork has in recent years pushed to sign on more members from large companies, in part because these tenants are safer revenue bets. Alison Griswold, Quartz, "WeWork is bracing for a recession," 14 Aug. 2019 Other tenants are Clancy's Burgers, La Chinita Poblana, Blue Point Oyster Bar, Poké Guru, Lick Ice Cream, Simply Divine Cupcakes, Daredevil Brewing Co. and The Tartine Station restaurant. Liz Biro, Indianapolis Star, "A new lobster roll restaurant has just signed on at Bottleworks' food hall on Mass Ave.," 8 Aug. 2019 Citymark's largest tenant is Balfour Beatty Construction. Steve Brown, Dallas News, "Developer Harwood adds to its holdings north of downtown Dallas," 29 July 2019

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

Noun

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

Verb

1634, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for tenant

Noun

Middle English tenaunt, tenant, borrowed from Anglo-French, "holder (of land under various circumstances)," noun derivative from present participle of tenir "to hold, have possession of," going back (with conjugation change) to Latin tenēre "to hold, occupy, possess," probably derivative, with the stative suffix *-h1i̯é- (with zero-grade ablaut) of the Indo-European verbal base *ten- "stretch, extend," whence, from a present-tense derivative *tn̥-neu̯/nu-, Sanskrit tanóti "(it) extends, spreads, endures," Greek tánytai "(s/he) stretches, extends, bends (a bow)," Welsh tannu, tanu "to spread, extend"; from a causative derivative *ton-éi̯e-, Sanskrit -tānayati "(it) extends," Germanic *þanjan- "to stretch" (whence Old English þennan "to stretch," Old Saxon thennian, Old High German dennen, Old Norse þenja, Gothic ufþanjan "to overextend"); from a present-tense derivative *ten-i̯e-, Greek teínein "to stretch, extend, spread, aim at," with verbal adjective tatós, action noun tásis, both from zero-grade *tn̥-t-

Note: This explanation of Latin tenēre is conventional, though the shift of sense (from "stretch, extend" to "extend the arm" to "grasp, hold"?) is not paralleled in other languages. Latin has no outcome of the Indo-European verb-stem formatives based on *ten- attested in other families (shown in the etymology above), having replaced *ten- in transitive/telic functions with the base *tend- (see tender entry 3). Derivatives with the stative suffix *-h1i̯é- regularly take zero-grade ablaut, which may be reflected in tenēre, though it could equally reflect full-grade *ten-. It is claimed that Umbrian tenitu (3rd singular imperative), apparently a counterpart within Italic to Latin tenēre, must reflect *ten- (apparently on the assumption that zero grade would result in *tan-; see Michiel de Vaan, Etymological Dictionary of Latin and the Other Italic Languages, Leiden, 2008).

Verb

derivative of tenant entry 1

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Statistics for tenant

Last Updated

2 Sep 2019

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

tenant

noun

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

tenant

noun
ten·​ant | \ ˈte-nənt How to pronounce tenant (audio) \

Kids Definition of tenant

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: a person or business that rents property from its owner

tenant

verb
tenanted; tenanting

Kids Definition of tenant (Entry 2 of 2)

: to hold or live in as a renter

tenant

noun
ten·​ant | \ ˈte-nənt How to pronounce tenant (audio) \

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

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