tenet

noun
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

But only in the last few years has lethality emerged as the central tenet of U.S. military identity. Jared Keller, The New Republic, "James Mattis’s Bizarre Cult of “Lethality”," 9 Sep. 2019 For the past twenty-two years, the terms of this legal settlement, known as the Flores Agreement, have been a central tenet of U.S. immigration policy. Jonathan Blitzer, The New Yorker, "The Trump Administration’s Sustained Attack on the Rights of Immigrant Children," 22 Aug. 2019 Doing the right thing is a central tenet of being human. San Diego Union-Tribune, "Are you an ethical leader? Will you do the right thing when it’s crunch time?," 12 Aug. 2019 With the horrifying massacres in El Paso and Dayton, political entrepreneurs already are taking recourse to the tenets of illiberal democracy. Kevin D. Williamson, National Review, "The Reflex toward Illiberal Democracy," 7 Aug. 2019 The study’s findings, laid out in their 1989 book, also explicitly raised questions about a central tenet of law and economics: that individuals respond rationally to economic incentives. Stephanie Saul, New York Times, "The Education of Elizabeth Warren," 25 Aug. 2019 Dorsey’s core tenet, as scrawled on the whiteboard in his office: don’t be scared. Ben Baskin, SI.com, "Welcome to Cleveland, Where the Browns Are True Contenders," 20 Aug. 2019 Unlike the president, who recalled bizarre revolutionary events in our history involving airport takeovers on July Fourth celebrations, Potter recalled one of the central tenets of the American Revolution: no taxation without representation. Elaine Ayala, ExpressNews.com, "Citizenship question is already being asked by the Census Bureau’s ongoing American Community Survey," 6 July 2019 One of the tenets in the Basic Law is that Hong Kong has the right to develop its own democracy, and previous Chinese officials pledged that the central government in Beijing wouldn't interfere with that. Tara John, CNN, "Why Hong Kong is protesting," 13 Aug. 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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Statistics for tenet

Last Updated

17 Sep 2019

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Time Traveler for tenet

The first known use of tenet was circa 1600

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More Definitions for tenet

tenet

noun

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

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