ten·​den·​tious ten-ˈden(t)-shəs How to pronounce tendentious (audio)
: marked by a tendency in favor of a particular point of view : biased
Radio and television in South Africa are effectively state-owned. … News reporting is selective and tendentious, customarily presenting only the government's view of events, and attacking or ignoring its opponents.William Finnegan
YouTube-style montages and mash-ups have been an excellent tool for seeing and showing how rhetoric takes shape. Of course, these videos can themselves be polemical, and people use them to advance all kinds of tendentious theories.Virginia Heffernan
tendentiously adverb
tendentiousness noun

Did you know?

Tendentious is one of several words English speakers can choose when they want to suggest that someone has made up his or her mind in advance. You may be partial to predisposed or prone to favor partisan, but whatever your leanings, we're inclined to think you'll benefit from adding tendentious to your repertoire. A derivative of the Medieval Latin word tendentia, meaning "tendency," plus the English suffix -ious, tendentious has been used in English as an adjective for biased attitudes since at least the end of the 19th century.

Examples of tendentious in a Sentence

He made some extremely tendentious remarks.
Recent Examples on the Web Ackman began his crusade with complaints about Gay’s response to purported antisemitism on the Harvard campus and her flatfooted response to a tendentious question from right-wing Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-N.Y.) at a congressional hearing. Michael Hiltzik, Los Angeles Times, 16 Jan. 2024 The opinion was tendentious and riddled with factual errors, citing material from the Twitter Files and the weaponization subcommittee. Jonathan Blitzer, The New Yorker, 21 Oct. 2023 Where those concerns intersect is in the tragic fact that, on this issue of such importance to public safety, the justices are very poor and tendentious historians. Jack Rakove, WSJ, 2 Nov. 2023 The simple plot of Strange Way of Life is a love story, set in the Old West — not the phony Middle America that was the basis of Brokeback Mountain’s tendentious political correctness. Armond White, National Review, 27 Oct. 2023 More recent tendentious campaign features by Dinesh D’Souza and Steve Bannon are essentially Pavlovian infomercials. J. Hoberman, The New Republic, 22 June 2023 Add to this the persistent notion that Schoenberg single-handedly destroyed the future of music, as well as the basic difficulty of so much as remembering a melody from any of his works—let alone learning one of them—and the concern begins to seem more than a tendentious hook. Christopher Carroll, Harper's Magazine, 9 June 2023 Ghoulish pundits with tendentious takes are a staple of the 24-hour social media and cable news circus. Gerard Baker, WSJ, 30 Jan. 2023 Executioner’s Song was Mailer’s only book after The Naked and the Dead that didn’t get weighed down by tendentious philosophical arguments. Scott Bradfield, The New Republic, 28 Apr. 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'tendentious.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


tendenti- (taken as Latinate stem of tendency) + -ous, probably after German tendeziös

First Known Use

1874, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of tendentious was in 1874

Dictionary Entries Near tendentious

Cite this Entry

“Tendentious.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/tendentious. Accessed 27 Feb. 2024.

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