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

They’re sent first to a tenement-like building in Los Angeles, then to a race track to stay in the stables while awaiting processing, and then finally to the desolate camps. Nina Li Coomes, The Atlantic, "The Uneven Historical Horror of The Terror: Infamy," 2 Sep. 2019 The apartment was in a brick tenement down a narrow alley. Dugan Arnett, BostonGlobe.com, "Soul-crushing. Demoralizing. My tortured odyssey to find an apartment in Boston," 30 Aug. 2019 Terrior Tribeca; 24 Harrison St, New York, NY 10013; (212) 625-9463 This unassuming watering hole in an old tenement home can only fit around 30 people at any one time, adding to the intimate feel of the space. The Plum Guide, Harper's BAZAAR, "Eat Chic: 13 Cozy Wine Bars in NYC to Visit ASAP," 12 Aug. 2019 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

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

14 Sep 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

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


one from the Upper Peninsula of Michigan

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