te·​net | \ ˈte-nət also ˈtē-nət How to pronounce tenet (audio) \

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 That trite but true tenet certainly applies to the 2019 Patriots. BostonGlobe.com, "You're using a browser set to private or incognito mode.," 7 Dec. 2019 At the core of the inquiry is the accusation that Mr. Trump traded a tenet of the alliance — helping a fragile nonmember, Ukraine, stave off Russian invaders — to benefit his own re-election campaign. David E. Sanger, New York Times, "With Internal Squabbling on Vivid Display, What’s Next for NATO?," 4 Dec. 2019 Lofty words, called tenets, were painted on the walls in big block letters. Clare Sestanovich, The New Yorker, "Old Hope," 2 Dec. 2019 Several of his posts appear at odds with key tenets of the state’s judicial code of conduct, which stresses impartiality and strict avoidance of words or actions that demonstrate bias or prejudice. Joseph Cranney, ProPublica, "He Defended the Confederate Flag and Insulted Immigrants. Now He’s a Judge.," 29 Nov. 2019 But the potential crumbling of a bedrock Hollywood tenet has led to widespread consternation from one corner of the movie world more than any other: small, independent theaters. Washington Post, "The small-town movie house braces for an unexpected threat," 27 Nov. 2019 More on Hall: Michigan State freshman absorbing tenets of program Worst-case scenario: The newcomer takes time to adjust to the strength and speed of the college game, and one of the other big men usurps his potential playing time. Chris Solari, Detroit Free Press, "Meet Michigan State basketball roster: Here's what to expect from each player," 3 Nov. 2019 But there is another, and possibly deeper, challenge to treating the Christian Bible as the container of Christian truth, which is that many of the faith’s core tenets do not appear in its pages. Christopher Beha, Harper's magazine, "How to Read the Bible," 28 Oct. 2019 Planetside Another sequel that seems too far away, Daybreak this week confirmed it’s working on Planetside 3 and outlined some basic design tenets. Hayden Dingman, PCWorld, "This week in games: First look at Command & Conquer remaster, Payday 2 back from the dead," 25 Oct. 2019

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

borrowed from Latin, "(s/he) holds," 3rd person singular present tense of tenēre "to hold, possess" — more at tenant entry 1

Note: Probably from the use of tenet in Latin texts as the opening verb in the statement of a principle or doctrine held by the person or body in question; cf. tenent (Latin, "they hold") used in the 16th to 18th centuries in the same sense.

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Time Traveler for tenet

Time Traveler

The first known use of tenet was circa 1600

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Statistics for tenet

Last Updated

10 Dec 2019

Cite this Entry

“Tenet.” The Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/tenet. Accessed 11 December 2019.

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More Definitions for tenet


How to pronounce tenet (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of tenet

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

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More from Merriam-Webster on tenet

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for tenet

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with tenet

Spanish Central: Translation of tenet

Nglish: Translation of tenet for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of tenet for Arabic Speakers

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heavy with or as if with moisture

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