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 But these are tenuous, small first steps—at least relative to Amazon’s corporate gigantism, with 1.3 million workers worldwide. Luis Feliz Leon, The New Republic, "The Amazon Union Vote is Ending in Bessemer. Workers Are Already Preparing for the Next Fight.," 26 Mar. 2021 Immigrants from my parents’ generation may dream of a post-racial America, but it’s a tenuous dream, one with cracks that are papered over. Karen Yuan, The Atlantic, "My Asian Parents Still Won’t Talk About the Racism They’ve Faced," 25 Mar. 2021 With a field of view far greater than that of an equivalent reflecting telescope, Dragonfly promises to capture the dim glow of vast, tenuous gas clouds that hold clues to the universe’s unseen dark matter. Govert Schilling, Science | AAAS, "Fly-eyed lens array captures dim objects missed by giant telescopes," 25 Mar. 2021 The tenuous lines between indie and mainstream, or between any combination of genres, blur. Briana Younger, Vulture, "Remaking R&B in Serpentwithfeet’s Image," 23 Mar. 2021 On the eve of the 2021 season, their first, Agric’s viability seems tenuous. BostonGlobe.com, "An urban farm embarks on its first season, determined to serve its community," 23 Mar. 2021 Predicting the future is tough -providing clarity on a tenuous Minnesota spring is like trying to nail Jell-O to a tree. Todd Nelson, Star Tribune, "Mild Winds Give Way To Soaking Rains," 21 Mar. 2021 Personal information, including social security numbers of customers, bank employees, and even people with tenuous connections to the bank, were accessed as part of this data breach. Andy Meek, BGR, "This is some of the worst news that a bank customer can get after a hack," 21 Mar. 2021 Taiwan, keen to retain its newfound and tenuous independence, had signed a mutual defense treaty with the U.S. in 1954, four years prior to the second Taiwan Strait Crisis. Alex Hollings, Popular Mechanics, "The Almost-Unbelievable True Story of the Sidewinder Missile," 21 Mar. 2021

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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Time Traveler for tenuous

Time Traveler

The first known use of tenuous was in 1597

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Statistics for tenuous

Last Updated

30 Mar 2021

Cite this Entry

“Tenuous.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/tenuous. Accessed 10 Apr. 2021.

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More Definitions for tenuous



English Language Learners Definition of tenuous

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

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