te·net | \ ˈte-nət also ˈtē-nət \

Definition of tenet 

: a principle, belief, or doctrine generally held to be true especially : one held in common by members of an organization, movement, or profession

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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 tenet in a Sentence

the central tenets of a religion one of the basic tenets of the fashion industry

Recent Examples on the Web

The message outlined the central tenets of Islam and affirmed that terrorism and violence have no place in the religion. Kristin E. Holmes, Philly.com, "Philly-based Templeton Foundation awards $1.45 million religion prize to Jordan's King Abdullah II," 26 June 2018 Avoiding conflicts of interest is a basic tenet of journalism, and intimate involvement with a source is considered verboten. Emily Flitter, New York Times, "How an Affair Between a Reporter and a Security Aide Has Rattled Washington Media," 24 June 2018 Capitalism isn’t usually a tenet of social justice movements, but Morón doesn’t believe making money in cannabis and agitating for anti-racist regulation are at odds. Judith Ohikuare, refinery29.com, "Can Black Women Do Good & Get Rich In Big Cannabis?," 22 June 2018 That change fueled dairy support for renegotiating NAFTA, which already had been a core tenet of Trump’s trade policy. Geoffrey Mohan, latimes.com, "Behind Trump's dairy rant, a cheesed-off Wisconsin and Canada's sacred cows," 12 June 2018 Today’s transhumanist movement, sometimes called H+, encompasses a broad range of issues and diversity of belief, but the notion of immortality—or, more correctly, amortality—is the central tenet. Joi Ito, WIRED, "The Responsibility of Immortality: Welcome to the New Transhumanism," 4 June 2018 Multiple studies have shown that employees respond much better to goodwill and appreciation, which is the core tenet of this book. Charlotte Cowles, The Cut, "7 Books to Read if You’re a First-time Boss," 16 May 2018 Charity is a tenet of the Islamic holy month, which this year for many Muslims will begin May 15 and end June 14. Frank Witsil, Detroit Free Press, "Charity during Ramadan means public safety, religion at odds," 14 May 2018 Raymond Kethledge of Michigan, 51, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit Pluses: His strong adherence to textualism and originalism, the twin tenets that drove the late Justice Antonin Scalia, pleases conservatives. David Jackson, USA TODAY, "Supreme Court nominee short list features candidates President Trump likes for different reasons," 3 July 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'tenet.' 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 tenet

circa 1600, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for tenet

Latin, he holds, from tenēre to hold

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Statistics for tenet

Last Updated

17 Sep 2018

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Time Traveler for tenet

The first known use of tenet was circa 1600

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English Language Learners Definition of tenet

: a belief or idea that is very important to a group

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Comments on tenet

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


the setting in which something occurs

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