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

His track record of successful star partnerships is tenuous at best, given three straight first-round exits following Kevin Durant's 2016 departure and George's recent trade request. Ben Golliver, courant.com, "Rockets reunite Harden and Westbrook, trading old problems for new ones," 12 July 2019 That’s been the status quo for two decades, but the tariff situation is quickly showing how tenuous the situation is, with the ongoing trade dispute potentially driving up costs across the industry and companies having no easy way out. Jacob Kastrenakes, The Verge, "HP, Dell, Microsoft, and Amazon look to move some hardware production out of China," 3 July 2019 But even the most generous reading of a path to the nomination for Swalwell seems tenuous. Tara Golshan, Vox, "Eric Swalwell’s 2020 presidential campaign and policy positions, explained," 26 June 2019 Those suggestions proved wrong in 2018, but Democrats’ hold on the House is and will be tenuous, at best, for the foreseeable future. The Washington Post, The Mercury News, "Analysis: The census is Trump’s sleeping giant scandal," 12 June 2019 Some family relationships have been completely, perhaps forever severed, while others still remain tenuous. Washington Post, "Hawaii power couple convicted in plot to frame a relative," 28 June 2019 The fallout from that cancellation inflamed an already tenuous contract negotiation between the musicians and the BSO’s leaders and board, who locked the musicians out earlier this month. Sameer Rao, baltimoresun.com, "BSO offers musicians health insurance extension amid contract dispute," 27 June 2019 The Warriors could have used Lee in the playoffs to shore up their declining wing depth amid Durant’s injury and Andre Iguodala’s tenuous health. Mark Medina, The Mercury News, "How will the Warriors handle Durant, Klay and their other free agents?," 27 June 2019 The cultural event of picking apart what candidates like to eat in the hopes of building tenuous arguments for their relatability is, yes, fun. Soleil Ho, SFChronicle.com, "Flame on: A quick stop at one65 in S.F.’s Union Square," 24 June 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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Last Updated

20 Jul 2019

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Time Traveler for tenuous

The first known use of tenuous was in 1597

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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

Nglish: Translation of tenuous for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of tenuous for Arabic Speakers

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to complain fretfully

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