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

One of his tenets is squad rotation, switching lineups and formations based on an opponent’s relative strengths and weaknesses. Mark Zeigler, sandiegouniontribune.com, "The tinkerer: Mexico coach Juan Carlos Osorio fiddles with a national institution," 16 June 2018 Anderson was presented with a poster by student Isabel Porter representing the six tenets of the American Legion: courage, honor, leadership, patriotism, scholarship, and service. Denise Coffey, Courant Community, "Fifth Graders Receive Certificates From The American Legion," 29 Mar. 2018 That change is unlikely to derail the focus on rolling back regulations, a core tenet of the Trump administration. Mark Trumbull, The Christian Science Monitor, "From new leadership to Clean Power Plan, subtle shifts ripple through EPA," 11 July 2018 California is still trying to hammer out a bill to preserve aspects of net neutrality, while Washington State has upheld major tenets of the policy. Kevin Kelleher, Fortune, "Brett Kavanaugh, Trump's Potential Supreme Court Nominee, Is No Friend to Net Neutrality," 10 July 2018 The resistance is the other core tenet of the Democratic Party. Fox News, "Democrats target SCOTUS candidate Amy Coney Barrett," 6 July 2018 The 12 Tribes sect helped spread Rastafari’s Afrocentric tenets into the wider populace (Bob Marley was a 12 Tribe member). Patricia Meschino, Billboard, "As Reggae Celebrates 50 Years, Some of the Genre's Pioneers Look Back on Its Worldwide Ascent," 1 July 2018 His refined cooking here centers on Peruvian cooking’s core tenets. Garrett Snyder, Los Angeles Magazine, "The Best Peruvian Restaurants in Los Angeles," 26 June 2018 The invention of an official language for the land of Armenia meant that religious tenets could be disseminated as never before. Ryan P. Smith, Smithsonian, "Unfurling the Rich Tapestry of Armenian Culture," 25 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

29 Oct 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).


obstinately defiant of authority

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