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

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. See More
Recent Examples on the Web The leasing trends may be tenuous: Many funds are struggling as tumultuous markets, inflation worries and the war in Ukraine have eaten into returns. Natalie Wong, Fortune, 10 May 2022 The relationship between Ball and Borrego was tenuous because Ball is prone to mistakes, turnovers, and lazy defense. Gary Washburn, BostonGlobe.com, 7 May 2022 The relationship between Iran and Afghanistan had already been tenuous since the Taliban’s takeover of Afghanistan in August. New York Times, 28 Apr. 2022 In addition, with the Heat having tied their season series against both the 76ers and Bucks, the next head-to-head tiebreaker would be conference record, and the Heat’s advantage there is tenuous. Ira Winderman, Sun Sentinel, 27 Apr. 2022 Though the road can be tenuous, Been Stellar’s dedication is paying off. Althea Legaspi, Rolling Stone, 15 Apr. 2022 In addition, with the Heat having tied their season series against both the 76ers and Bucks, the next head-to-head tiebreaker would be conference record, and the Heat’s advantage there is tenuous. Ira Winderman, sun-sentinel.com, 31 Mar. 2022 Past conflicts have come with travel demand shocks, at least as measured by airline passengers, though analogies to the present conflict may be tenuous. Telis Demos, WSJ, 9 Mar. 2022 This only exacerbates an energy security scenario that was tenuous for Ukraine even before the invasion. Ariel Cohen, Forbes, 7 Mar. 2022 See More

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.

First Known Use of tenuous

1597, in the meaning defined at sense 3

History and Etymology for tenuous

Latin tenuis "fine-drawn, thin, narrow, slight" + -ous — more at thin entry 1

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Time Traveler for tenuous

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The first known use of tenuous was in 1597

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Last Updated

17 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“Tenuous.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/tenuous. Accessed 19 May. 2022.

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