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 house, listed at $695,000, combines classic tenets of Wright's design—radiant heating, natural materials, open-concept living—with the benefits of an urban zip code. Sara Rodrigues, House Beautiful, "You Can Live In A Frank Lloyd Wright Home For $695K," 16 Jan. 2019 Meanwhile, the Women’s March helped establish intersectionality as a core tenet not just of mainstream feminism but of Democratic politics. Anna North, Vox, "The Women’s March changed the American left. Now anti-Semitism allegations threaten the group’s future.," 21 Dec. 2018 Many of the lab’s initiatives share a deep engagement with basic tenets of human psychology: the power of competition and play, the subversive potential of hope, the way that stating a desire manifests expectation and participation. Julia Cooke, Curbed, "How Mexico City’s urban innovation lab tackles the city’s challenges," 18 Apr. 2018 It’s built on age-old tenets of behavioral psychology that marketers and advertisers have long used to get people to buy their products. Matt O'brien, The Seattle Times, "Advocates condemn psych techniques used to keep kids online," 7 Aug. 2018 One of the main tenets of EU membership is the freedom for citizens to move and work anywhere within the 28-country bloc. Pan Pylas, The Seattle Times, "EU workers leave UK in record numbers as Brexit looms," 13 Nov. 2018 Charity is a central tenet; their partnership with Children in The Wilderness provides educational programs for children in rural Africa to help raise awareness about sustainable conservation. Virginia Van Zanten, Vogue, "Why Botswana Should Top Your Travel List in 2019," 27 Dec. 2018 Mandatory sanctions on anyone who attacks our electoral systems serve as the best deterrent, which is the central tenet of the bipartisan DETER Act. Sean Gallagher, Ars Technica, "Trump signs order authorizing “automatic” sanctions for election interference [Updated]," 12 Sep. 2018 The Believers Bail Out highlights not only a political and social movement in this country, but a tenet of Islam, dating back to the time of Prophet Muhammad. Manya Brachear Pashman, chicagotribune.com, "A Muslim charity joins the campaign against mass incarceration," 14 June 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

19 Feb 2019

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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

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

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More from Merriam-Webster on tenet

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with tenet

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for tenet

Spanish Central: Translation of tenet

Nglish: Translation of tenet for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of tenet for Arabic Speakers

Comments on tenet

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a servile follower or underling

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