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 Its first-in-the-nation status was already tenuous, due to longstanding criticisms of the caucuses process and relative lack of diversity in the overwhelmingly white state. Emily Larsen, Washington Examiner, "Pete Buttigieg edges out Bernie Sanders for delegates in Iowa caucuses," 9 Feb. 2020 Talk of camps -- however tenuous the claim -- could risk more unrest in the volatile region and For decades Kashmir has been the epicenter of an often-violent territorial struggle between India and Pakistan. Helen Regan And Swati Gupta, CNN, "Deradicalization camps for Kashmiris? That's just absurd, experts say," 24 Jan. 2020 All sorts of dot-com companies, no matter how tenuous their connection to the internet, continued to surge in value in the eyes of Wall Street—until the bubble burst in early March 2000. Paris Martineau, Wired, "Everything and Nothing Is a Tech Company Now," 26 Dec. 2019 His relationship with his father remains tenuous at best. oregonlive, "Volunteers of America Oregon scholarship helps kids escape shadow of substance abuse: Season of Sharing 2019," 12 Nov. 2019 As Yemen's ongoing outage underscores, though, the fallback options for some regions are more tenuous. Lily Hay Newman, Wired, "Cut Undersea Cable Plunges Yemen Into Days-Long Internet Outage," 13 Jan. 2020 Especially not in Birmingham, where the strands of communication are already tenuous, laced with historical distrust. Roy S. Johnson | Rjohnson@al.com, al, "Johnson: Money talks, but to get Global Forum built, it must listen, too," 10 Jan. 2020 The neighbors tolerate them — and some even rely on them — until a tragic incident exposes just how tenuous their position in the community is. Los Angeles Times, "Review: Opioids infect Ohio town and family in the crime saga ‘Inherit the Viper’," 8 Jan. 2020 But a year later, his position as head of the legislature — and his claim to the presidency — appear to be increasingly tenuous. New York Times, "Venezuela’s National Assembly Opens for Business: Scuffles, Tear Gas and Doused Lights," 7 Jan. 2020

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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Last Updated

16 Feb 2020

Cite this Entry

“Tenuous.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/tenuous. Accessed 28 Feb. 2020.

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How to pronounce tenuous (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of tenuous

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

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Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with tenuous

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Britannica English: Translation of tenuous for Arabic Speakers

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