ten·​on | \ ˈte-nən How to pronounce tenon (audio) \

Definition of tenon

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: a projecting member in a piece of wood or other material for insertion into a mortise to make a joint — see dovetail illustration


tenoned; tenoning; tenons

Definition of tenon (Entry 2 of 2)

transitive verb

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

Examples of tenon in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun The barrel tenon is cut oversized for a perfect receiver fit, then the receiver is deburred, squared, and the barrel hole is recut straight. Michael R. Shea, Field & Stream, 22 Feb. 2021 Test fit each joint and, if necessary, lightly pare down the tenon for a proper fit. Neal Barrett, Popular Mechanics, 14 Nov. 2020 Even more strength comes from the tenon that connects the handle to the uprights. Bradley Ford, Popular Mechanics, 25 Feb. 2020 That knife line will mark the inside corner where the handle tenon meets the upright. Bradley Ford, Popular Mechanics, 25 Feb. 2020 Add glue to the ends of the tenons and work quickly before the glue sets. Popular Science, 25 Jan. 2020 Kreg Pocket Screw Jig There will be plenty of time later to learn how to cut complex woodworking joints like mortise and tenons and dovetails. Roy Berendsohn, Popular Mechanics, 15 Oct. 2019 The thick perimeter pieces and crosspieces were joined with interlocking mortise and tenon joints. Washington Post, 17 June 2019 The structure was built using mortise and tenon, with pegs for extra strength-- a technique lost in the following century. Adele Foster, NOLA.com, 16 July 2017

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'tenon.' 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 tenon


14th century, in the meaning defined above


1596, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for tenon


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

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Time Traveler for tenon

Time Traveler

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

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Cite this Entry

“Tenon.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/tenon. Accessed 21 Jun. 2021.

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English Language Learners Definition of tenon

technical : an end of a piece of wood that is cut into a special shape to fit into a hole (called a mortise) in another piece of wood and form a strong joint


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