untenable was our Word of the Day on 02/13/2015. Hear the podcast!
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Examples of untenable in a Sentence
The Agriculture Department is in an untenable position. With the two hats that it wears—one to protect consumer health and the other to help farmers sell food—it cannot tell us to eat fewer calories. After all, fewer calories generally mean less food, which would fly in the face of the department's mandate to help farmers. —Marian Burros, New York Times, 14 Aug. 2002
All the theories of the Moon's origin proposed before the Apollo Moon landings of 1969 … became untenable when the rocks returned from the Moon proved to be as old as the Earth and significantly dissimilar. —Physics Today, January 1997
The problem was then resolved—not by finding that the conduct in question was justified, because that would have offended the judge's sense of order, and not by rejecting the applicability of the defense, which would have led to a reportable opinion and an appeal—but through a dismissal of the charges on the wholly untenable ground that the prosecution had not proved its case beyond a reasonable doubt. —Edward N. Costikyan, New York Times Book Review, 13 Mar. 1988
But scholars are citizens, too, and if it is wrongheaded to demand political payoff from basic research, it would be equally untenable to demand that research be quarantined from the real-world considerations that weigh so heavily upon us. —Henry Louis Gates, Jr., New York Times, 4 Apr. 1998
Recent Examples of untenable from the Web
Their trade for Jimmy Butler seemingly closed the door on Rubio’s time in Minnesota, as starting three shaky perimeter shooters in Rubio (career 32% from deep), Butler (career 34%) and Andrew Wiggins (career 33%) was going to be untenable.
Fairly quickly, however, Republican members of Congress realized that that approach was untenable (although, Trump and a couple of conservative GOP senators revived the idea in a Twitter message Friday morning).
But the technology industry and privacy advocates have also admitted the current rules for appropriate cross-border data requests are untenable.
What staff has been able to accomplish under stressful circumstances has been incredible, said Deputy Chief Executive Officer Yousef Awwad, but the strain is untenable.
The plan was to use him only in pass-rushing situations, but that proved untenable because, early in the season, the Dolphins rarely forced opponents to throw.
If that examination turned up something untenable, such as an unacceptable noise impact, the Air Force would deny Gowen the F-35 mission, experts say.
Following the meeting, McNulty said the move was necessary to avoid falling into an untenable budget deficit.
While places like the Washington Post -- under the guidance of billionaire Jeff Bezos -- have prospered, the economics of keeping a full staff at many smaller newspapers have become untenable.
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.
Did You Know?
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.
First Known Use of untenable
UNTENABLE Defined for English Language Learners
Definition of untenable for English Language Learners
: not capable of being defended against attack or criticism : not tenable
Seen and Heard
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