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

What’s most sobering about this news is how truly tenuous this roster has become. Matt Calkins, The Seattle Times, "It might be nothing, but until we know more, K.J. Wright’s knee treatment certainly is worrisome," 27 Aug. 2018 The exodus has further endangered Republicans’ already tenuous hold on Congress, creating open seats in states such as New Jersey and California that Republicans will struggle to hold. Jonathan Martin And Nicholas Fandos, BostonGlobe.com, "Paul Ryan won’t seek reelection, signaling that GOP majority in House is in peril," 11 Apr. 2018 Yet Ramaphosa’s tenuous hold over the African National Congress constrained his ability to appoint a cabinet entirely of his choosing. Bloomberg.com, "Ramaphosa Walks Tightrope in South African Cabinet Overhaul," 27 Feb. 2018 Moroccan control over the southern portion of the country has been tenuous and was disputed by the Sahrawi people until a ceasefire in 1991. Megan Geuss, Ars Technica, "Construction to begin on 36 megawatt Moroccan wind farm for Bitcoin mining," 18 Sep. 2018 But Nike’s rebound is still tenuous, especially given the momentum behind rivals such as Lululemon and Adidas . Elizabeth Winkler, WSJ, "Nike’s Moral Arc Bends Toward Sneakers," 5 Sep. 2018 The possibility of a deal over Manbij has, at least temporarily, cooled temperatures, according to senior U.S. and Turkish officials who spoke on the condition of anonymity about the still-tenuous rapprochement. Washington Post, "U.S. moving to repair relations with Turkey, endangering ties with Kurdish allies," 10 Mar. 2018 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

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

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Dictionary Entries near tenuous

tenuis

tenuity

tenulin

tenuous

tenure

tenure by free alms

tenured

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Last Updated

23 Apr 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

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for tenuous

Spanish Central: Translation of tenuous

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Britannica English: Translation of tenuous for Arabic Speakers

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