Definition of untenable
- an untenable position
- untenable apartments
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These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'untenable.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.
Untenable and its opposite tenable come to us from Old French tenir and ultimately from Latin tenēre, both of which mean "to hold." We tend to use untenable in situations where an idea or position is so off base that holding on to it is unjustified or inexcusable. One way to hold on to the meaning of "untenable" is to associate it with other tenēre descendants whose meanings are associated with "holding" or "holding on to." Tenacious" ("holding fast") is one example. Others are contain, detain, sustain, maintain, and retain.
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