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ten·​on ˈte-nən How to pronounce tenon (audio)
: a projecting member in a piece of wood or other material for insertion into a mortise to make a joint see dovetail illustration


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tenoned; tenoning; tenons

transitive verb

: to unite by a tenon
: to cut or fit for insertion in a mortise

Examples of tenon in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web
The beams were assembled using mortise and tenon joinery, in which a protruding tenon slots into a mortise hole and is held fast with an oak peg. Aurelien Breeden, New York Times, 29 Mar. 2024 This essentially creates a mortise and tenon joint, without having to actually cut a mortise and tenon, which is time-consuming and requires skill and practice. Jean Levasseur, Popular Science, 26 July 2023 Barnes attaches the slabs to the ends with a fastener-free mortise and tenon. Popular Mechanics Editors, Popular Mechanics, 24 Apr. 2021 All the structures inside the Suzhou Garden are made of solid wood jointed by mortise and tenon joints (two pieces of wood are locked together without nails). Maggie Hiufu Wong, CNN, 19 Mar. 2023 This bike is a collection of interlocking tubes held together by mortise-and-tenon construction and bolt collars. Kevin Purdy, Ars Technica, 5 Feb. 2023 The use of long mortise-and-tenon joints and a developed internal structure point toward the Classical time period. Joshua Hawkins, BGR, 20 July 2022 Then, lay out the angled shoulder and cut the finished tenon with a sharp backsaw [21]. Neal Barrett, Popular Mechanics, 31 July 2021 Readjust the blade height to cut the shoulder at the top and bottom edge of each tenon. Neal Barrett, Popular Mechanics, 31 July 2021

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'tenon.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History



Middle English tenoun, tenowne, borrowed from Anglo-French tenoun, from tenir "to hold" + -on, suffix of agent or instrument, going back to Latin -ōn-, -ō, suffix of nouns denoting persons with a prominent feature — more at tenant entry 1


derivative of tenon entry 1

First Known Use


14th century, in the meaning defined above


1596, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of tenon was in the 14th century

Dictionary Entries Near tenon

Cite this Entry

“Tenon.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/tenon. Accessed 26 May. 2024.

Kids Definition


: a projecting part in a piece of material (as wood) for insertion into a mortise to make a joint
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