te·​net | \ ˈte-nət How to pronounce tenet (audio) 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 That reduction of the contamination of recycling is a key tenet for the township’s new contract with Waste Management. Jeff Forward, Houston Chronicle, "Woodlands recycling event changes format due to COVID," 15 Oct. 2020 Neumann’s approach to fundraising seems rooted in a simple tenet: Find out what investors want—then say whatever is needed to convince them that their desires are yours. Vauhini Vara, The Atlantic, "The WeWork Guy’s Guide to Striking It Rich," 14 Oct. 2020 Potential steps include directly financing government budget deficits, a key tenet of Modern Monetary Theory which plays down the idea that there’s anything scary about monetizing debt. Simon Kennedy, Bloomberg.com, "How Unconventional Monetary Policy Turned Conventional," 13 Sep. 2020 All of which brings us to the last and most important tenet of Ghetto Gastro: Pay up. Jason Parham, Wired, "WIRED25: Ghetto Gastro Sees Food as a Weapon," 16 Sep. 2020 Amy McClure, Smithfield’s associate general counsel, wrote to Brashears again, this time citing a central tenet of the executive order. Michael Grabell, ProPublica, "Emails Show the Meatpacking Industry Drafted an Executive Order to Keep Plants Open," 14 Sep. 2020 And when the industry's move upmarket tempted Subaru to forsake its tenet of affordability, attendance fell off sharply. Tony Assenza, Car and Driver, "Tested: 1988 Subaru XT6 Tests Upmarket Ambitions for Subaru," 11 Sep. 2020 In general, the NBA tends to put more focus on individual players than whole teams, a tenet that's reflected in the culture and in the very structure of the league. Aj Willingham, CNN, "The NBA routinely leads the way in sports activism. Here's why," 28 Aug. 2020 Jumping into the rush was a main tenet of Dallas’ training camp in July, and the focal point for what the coaching staff wanted to see from the Stars in their early games in Edmonton. Matthew Defranks, Dallas News, "How defensemen Miro Heiskanen, John Klingberg have powered the Stars’ offense against Calgary," 21 Aug. 2020

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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Last Updated

26 Oct 2020

Cite this Entry

“Tenet.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/tenet. Accessed 30 Oct. 2020.

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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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