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

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Synonyms for tenement


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

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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

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 Her specialty was crystalline black-and-white images that lavish equal attention on steel skyscrapers and crumbling brick tenements. Deborah Solomon, New York Times, "Berenice Abbott: She Was a Camera," 1 June 2018 For an unknown plot of land somewhere in the West, for an unfamiliar tenement in New York City, for a new language, a new church, and new families in America. Lyman Stone, Vox, "The myth of the job-hopping, rootless millennial is just that — a myth," 11 July 2018 While their well-off white counterparts enjoyed days at the beach or the pool, children living in tenements and housing projects were forced to get creative. Amy Crawford, Smithsonian, "Racism Kept Connecticut’s Beaches White Up Through the 1970s," 2 July 2018 In 2005, six New York City firefighters were trapped on the fourth floor of a burning tenement in the Bronx. Mike Hendricks, kansascity, "Firefighters protect us. Who protects them?," 13 July 2018 The homes, which squeezed three, minuscule rooms onto the second floor, were the Philadelphia equivalent of New York’s tenement apartments. Inga Saffron, Philly.com, "When trading up isn't an option, Philadelphia rowhouse owners build up | Inga Saffron," 21 June 2018 With rents ever higher in Chelsea’s old garages and the Lower East Side’s tenements, nearly a dozen homesteading dealers have moved to a few blocks of terra nullius hemmed in by SoHo, TriBeCa and the Civic Center. New York Times, "The 54 Galleries to See Right Now in New York," 26 Apr. 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.

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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

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Statistics for tenement

Last Updated

23 Apr 2019

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Time Traveler for tenement

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

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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

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Comments on tenement

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incapable of being surmounted or overcome

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