tenuous

adjective
ten·​u·​ous | \ ˈten-yə-wəs How to pronounce tenuous (audio) , -yü-əs\

Definition of tenuous

1a : having little substance or strength : flimsy, weak tenuous influences
b : shaky sense 2a tenuous reasons
2 : not thick : slender a tenuous rope
3 : not dense : rare a tenuous fluid

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Other Words from tenuous

tenuously adverb
tenuousness noun

Choose the Right Synonym for tenuous

thin, slender, slim, slight, tenuous mean not thick, broad, abundant, or dense. thin implies comparatively little extension between surfaces or in diameter, or it may imply lack of substance, richness, or abundance. thin wire a thin soup slender implies leanness or spareness often with grace and good proportion. the slender legs of a Sheraton chair slim applies to slenderness that suggests fragility or scantiness. a slim volume of poetry a slim chance slight implies smallness as well as thinness. a slight build tenuous implies extreme thinness, sheerness, or lack of substance and firmness. a tenuous thread

What is the Definition of tenuous?

Something tenuous has been stretched thin and might break at any time. A person with a tenuous hold on his sanity should be watched carefully. If a business is only tenuously surviving, it will probably go bankrupt in the next recession. If there seems to be only a tenuous connection between two crimes, it means the investigators have more work to do.

Examples of tenuous in a Sentence

What is also true is that they, and I, were lucky, through genes or fate, to surge through the maelstrom of dashed hope and denied opportunity to grasp a tenuous piece of the American Dream. — Anthony Walton, Lure and Loathing, 1993 After the end of the crusading period, however relations between East and West had grown tenuous — Albert Hourani, Islam in European Thought, 1991 The authors follow researchers as they use the slimmest leads and the most tenuous connections to track the genes for Huntington's disease, muscular dystrophy, schizophrenia and a host of other physical and mental miseries. — Natalie Angier, New York Times Book Review, 12 Aug. 1990 He has a tenuous grasp on reality. The local theater has had a tenuous existence in recent years. He could demonstrate only a tenuous claim to ownership.
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Recent Examples on the Web

Much of the 20th century has become a sort of Atlantis, and analogies between the old time and our own are tenuous. Lance Morrow, WSJ, "America Is Torn Between Trump’s Fibs and Progressives’ Fantasies," 15 Feb. 2019 However, that organization was tenuous and the speaker was later replaced. Becky Bohrer, The Seattle Times, "Alaska House speaker vote fails amid ongoing talks," 4 Feb. 2019 Hall's eye-rolls and audible sighs as the only woman in the room anchors the show to a tenuous set of morals, or even politics, and serves as a layer of 2019 self-awareness placed over the 1987 locker room dialogue. Bridget Read, Vogue, "Black Monday on Showtime: Maybe Wall Street Isn't Funny Anymore," 21 Jan. 2019 But as Tesla’s problems mount, and Musk’s unpredictable behavior continues, Musk’s position appears increasingly tenuous. Emily Stewart, Vox, "Elon Musk reportedly almost avoided a federal lawsuit — but then backed out," 29 Sep. 2018 And the whole concept rests on some tenuous assumptions. Kelsey Piper, Vox, "“Impact investment” funds advertise great returns and social impacts. They aren’t delivering.," 18 Dec. 2018 Her tenuous position leaves her worse equipped than ever to counter Trump, who has gleefully undermined her on Twitter. Benjamin Hart, Daily Intelligencer, "Trump Tweets Signal Usual Aggressive Posture Heading Into NATO Summit," 9 July 2018 The decision today is a small step in a larger case that involves American suspicion toward the Chinese device maker, US sanctions against Iran, and all against the backdrop of tenuous US-China trade negotiations. Shannon Liao, The Verge, "Huawei’s CFO is granted bail by Canadian court but will be closely monitored," 11 Dec. 2018 As a result, the simplest model of inflation is looking tenuous now. Chris Lee, Ars Technica, "Inflation theories must dig deeper to avoid collision with data," 6 Dec. 2018

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

1597, in the meaning defined at sense 3

History and Etymology for tenuous

Latin tenuis thin, slight, tenuous — more at thin

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Dictionary Entries near tenuous

tenuis

tenuity

tenulin

tenuous

tenure

tenure by free alms

tenured

Statistics for tenuous

Last Updated

16 Mar 2019

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Time Traveler for tenuous

The first known use of tenuous was in 1597

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More Definitions for tenuous

tenuous

adjective

English Language Learners Definition of tenuous

: not certain, definite, or strong : flimsy, weak, or uncertain
literary : very thin

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More from Merriam-Webster on tenuous

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with tenuous

Spanish Central: Translation of tenuous

Nglish: Translation of tenuous for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of tenuous for Arabic Speakers

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