ten·​e·​ment | \ ˈte-nə-mənt How to pronounce tenement (audio) \

Definition of tenement

c : a house used as a dwelling : residence
2 : any of various forms of corporeal property (such as land) or incorporeal property that is held by one person from another
3 : dwelling

Keep scrolling for more

Synonyms for tenement


apartment, diggings [chiefly British], digs, flat [chiefly British], lodgings, suite

Visit the Thesaurus for More 

Examples of tenement in a Sentence

an exhibit of pictures showing the tenements of the New York City neighborhood of Hell's Kitchen during the 1920s

Recent Examples on the Web

The Cheap Trains Act of 1883 allowed working-class people to move from grim tenement blocks to railway suburbs. National Geographic, "These five maps reveal how transit and geography can shape a city," 27 June 2019 In another era, those Angelenos might have found refuge in crumbling hotels and tenements. Gale Holland, latimes.com, "Why L.A. County’s homelessness crisis has been decades in the making," 5 June 2019 Introverted and observant, Francie grows out of her neighborhood—the tenement Brooklyn of the early 1900s, mostly immigrant and mostly impoverished—toward her lifelong ambition of becoming a writer. Allie Spensley, WSJ, "A Tale of Roots and Resilience," 5 Oct. 2018 Flash powder is what allowed Jacob Riis, a Danish immigrant to the U.S. and a resident of New York’s Lower East Side, to take photos of the dark alleys and tenement rooms in the slums of New York City. Marlo Safi, National Review, "A Raw Look at the New ‘Other Half’," 29 June 2019 In 1922, The Sun reported with some hand-wringing that tenement children were eating snowballs as temporary respite against the 95 degree summer heat, since milk was spoiling. Christina Tkacik, baltimoresun.com, "10 Baltimore area snowball stands worth your time," 26 June 2019 The old tenement buildings were to be bulldozed and turned into a mixed-use, high-end retail and residential complex. Antony Dapiran, CNN, "City of dissent: Hong Kong has a proud tradition of protesting to protect its unique identity," 14 June 2019 Caroline Chang grew up on Hudson Street in Chinatown, living with her family in a second-floor tenement apartment. Bryan Marquard, BostonGlobe.com, "Caroline Chang, 77, longtime community leader in Chinatown," 26 May 2018 On Saturday morning, hundreds of RAB personnel raided the Geneva Camp neighborhood in Dhaka, a cramped warren of concrete tenements and shops, going house-to-house with drug-sniffing dogs. Shashank Bengali, latimes.com, "Asia's newest drug war leaves more than 90 people dead in less than two weeks," 27 May 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'tenement.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

See More

First Known Use of tenement

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 2

History and Etymology for tenement

Middle English, "the holding of property, the property so held, building, dwelling," borrowed from Anglo-French, borrowed from Medieval Latin tenementum, tenimentum, teneamentum, from Latin tenēre "to hold, occupy, possess" + -mentum -ment — more at tenant entry 1

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about tenement

Statistics for tenement

Last Updated

20 Jul 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for tenement

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

See more words from the same century

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for tenement



English Language Learners Definition of tenement

: a large building that has apartments or rooms for rent and that is usually in a poorer part of a city


ten·​e·​ment | \ ˈte-nə-mənt How to pronounce tenement (audio) \

Kids Definition of tenement

: a building divided into separate apartments for rent


ten·​e·​ment | \ ˈte-nə-mənt How to pronounce tenement (audio) \

Legal Definition of tenement

1a : any of various forms of property (as land) that is held by one person from another
b : an estate in property
2 : dwelling

History and Etymology for tenement

Anglo-French, from Old French, from Medieval Latin tenementum, from Latin tenēre to hold

Keep scrolling for more

Comments on tenement

What made you want to look up tenement? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


having no luck

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

What's that Smell?! Quiz

  • wide eyed dog smelling rose
  • Someone who is hircine smells like a:
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

Word Winder's CrossWinder

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!