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

Antonyms: Noun

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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 Some of the office space will be leased to other tenants. Madison Iszler, ExpressNews.com, "Still Golden building to be demolished as plans for Jefferson Bank’s new HQ move forward," 18 Dec. 2019 Rising rents are a concern to tenants with rates up more than 20 percent in the last few years. Katherine Feser, Houston Chronicle, "Plentiful in Houston: office rent concessions, new industrial buildings," 13 Nov. 2019 The pool is kept at about 84 degrees and open to tenants only. Lisa J. Huriash, sun-sentinel.com, "These over-the-top pools jut out mid-air, offering breathtaking views," 31 Oct. 2019 The airport will own all the acreage, and SkyBridge will lease the land from the airport, in turn, leasing buildings to tenants, airport spokesman Ryan Smith said. Alison Steinbach, azcentral, "Huge SkyBridge project with customs facility at Mesa's Gateway airport gets underway," 28 Oct. 2019 The prince is well-known to the Duchy tenants across generations. Victoria Murphy, Town & Country, "Prince Charles Speaks out About the "Horrors" of Climate Change in New Documentary," 19 Oct. 2019 With two-thirds of its 2.5 million square feet already leased to such high-profile tenants as Uber and Walgreens, the building seems destined to become a new commercial hub, like a skyscraper turned on its side. Blair Kamin, chicagotribune.com, "Column: An exclusive look inside Chicago’s Old Post Office as the nation’s largest reuse project greets its first tenants this weekend," 17 Oct. 2019 For housing advocates, that raises the worrisome possibility that landlords will pass those costs on to tenants through higher rents. Frederick Melo, Twin Cities, "How much would St. Paul property taxes go up — if at all — if ‘no’ votes prevail on trash?," 12 Oct. 2019 Her lawyers argued that the identical physical appearance of the apartment complex from floor to floor frequently led to tenants going to the wrong apartments. Jake Bleiberg, Anchorage Daily News, "Officer convicted of murder was hugged by her victim’s brother and a judge, igniting a debate about forgiveness and race," 3 Oct. 2019 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Here’s a look at the staffing and year 2020 goals for the Office of Financial Empowerment, from college savings to tenant protections. Frederick Melo, Twin Cities, "Renters’ rights. Worker co-ops. College savings accounts for kids. In St. Paul, a new office is leading all that and more.," 27 Dec. 2019 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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Time Traveler for tenant

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for tenant

Last Updated

7 Jan 2020

Cite this Entry

“Tenant.” The Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/tenanting. Accessed 19 January 2020.

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More Definitions for tenant

tenant

noun
How to pronounce tenant (audio)

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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