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[ten-uh-muh nt] /ˈtɛn ə mənt/
Also called tenement house. a run-down and often overcrowded apartment house, especially in a poor section of a large city.
  1. any species of permanent property, as lands, houses, rents, an office, or a franchise, that may be held of another.
  2. tenements, freehold interests in things immovable considered as subjects of property.
British. an apartment or room rented by a tenant.
Archaic. any abode or habitation.
Origin of tenement
1250-1300; Middle English < Medieval Latin tenēmentum, equivalent to Latin tenē(re) to hold + -mentum -ment
Related forms
[ten-uh-men-tl] /ˌtɛn əˈmɛn tl/ (Show IPA),
[ten-uh-men-tuh-ree] /ˌtɛn əˈmɛn tə ri/ (Show IPA),
tenemented, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for tenement
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • Just children and children and children and tenement houses.

    Gloria and Treeless Street Annie Hamilton Donnell
  • That evening everyone in the tenement was discussing Coupeau's strange malady.

    L'Assommoir Emile Zola
  • The stone stairs to the tenement house were thronged with women.

    The Christian Hall Caine
  • As she crossed the court to her room in the tenement house they heard her "Oh, oh, oh!"

    The Christian Hall Caine
  • I must hire some tenement to move into when I have to leave here.

    The Young Miner Horatio Alger, Jr.
  • There was time for me to try to earn my living; or at least the rent of our tenement.

    The Promised Land Mary Antin
  • Who would feel cramped in a tenement, with such royal privileges as these?

    The Promised Land Mary Antin
  • They form the tenement district, or, in the newer phrase, the slums of Boston.

    The Promised Land Mary Antin
  • But the majority of the mansions had been turned into Italian tenement houses.

    Still Jim Honor Willsie Morrow
British Dictionary definitions for tenement


Also called tenement building. (now esp in Scotland) a large building divided into separate flats
a dwelling place or residence, esp one intended for rent
(mainly Brit) a room or flat for rent
(property law) any form of permanent property, such as land, dwellings, offices, etc
Derived Forms
tenemental (ˌtɛnəˈmɛntəl), tenementary, adjective
tenemented, adjective
Word Origin
C14: from Medieval Latin tenementum, from Latin tenēre to hold
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for tenement

c.1300, "holding of immovable property" (such as land or buildings,) from Anglo-French (late 13c.) and Old French tenement (12c.), from Medieval Latin tenementum "a holding, fief" (11c.), from Latin tenere "to hold" (see tenet). The meaning "dwelling place, residence" is attested from early 15c.; tenement house "house broken up into apartments, usually in a poor section of a city" is first recorded 1858, American English, from tenament in an earlier sense (especially in Scotland) "large house constructed to be let to a number of tenants" (1690s).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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