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  1. a portable shelter of skins, canvas, plastic, or the like, supported by one or more poles or a frame and often secured by ropes fastened to pegs in the ground.
  2. something that resembles a tent.
  3. tent dress.
verb (used with object)
  1. to lodge in tents.
  2. to cover with or as if with a tent: In winter the tennis courts are tented inplastic.
verb (used without object)
  1. to live in a tent; encamp.

Origin of tent1

1250–1300; Middle English tente < Old French < Latin tenta, feminine of tentus past participle of tendere to extend, stretch; compare tentōrium tent
Related formstent·less, adjectivetent·like, adjective


verb (used with object) Chiefly Scot.
  1. to give or pay attention to; heed.

Origin of tent2

1250–1300; Middle English, derivative of tent (noun) attention, aphetic variant of attent < Old French atente attention, intention < Latin attenta, feminine of attentus, past participle of attendere to attend


  1. a probe.
  2. a roll or pledget, usually of soft absorbent material, as lint or gauze, for dilating an orifice, keeping a wound open, etc.
verb (used with object)
  1. to keep (a wound) open with a tent.

Origin of tent3

1325–75; Middle English tente a probe < Middle French, noun derivative of tenter < Latin tentāre, variant of temptāre to probe, test. See tempt
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for tenting

Historical Examples

  • You will find them tenting out at the Métropole and all the expensive hotels.

    One Day's Courtship

    Robert Barr

  • Chief interests: painting, tenting, canoeing, and hunting in Maine.

  • But ever since there was only marching, tenting, suffering, and fatigue—and fatigue—and fatigue.

    The Long Roll

    Mary Johnston

  • There was another Indian in company with us, but tenting by himself (and his family).

  • Any shell holes in the roofs and walls are stopped with sections of tenting.

British Dictionary definitions for tenting


    1. a portable shelter of canvas, plastic, or other waterproof material supported on poles and fastened to the ground by pegs and ropes
    2. (as modifier)tent peg
  1. something resembling this in function or shape
  1. (intr) to camp in a tent
  2. (tr) to cover with or as if with a tent or tents
  3. (tr) to provide with a tent as shelter
Derived Formstented, adjectivetentless, adjectivetentlike, adjective

Word Origin

C13: from Old French tente, from Latin tentōrium something stretched out, from tendere to stretch


  1. a plug of soft material for insertion into a bodily canal, etc, to dilate it or maintain its patency
  1. (tr) to insert such a plug into (a bodily canal, etc)

Word Origin

C14 (in the sense: a probe): from Old French tente (noun), ultimately from Latin temptāre to try; see tempt


  1. obsolete a red table wine from Alicante, Spain

Word Origin

C16: from Spanish tinto dark-coloured; see tint


  1. heed; attention
verb (tr)
  1. to pay attention to; take notice of
  2. to attend to
Derived Formstenter, noun

Word Origin

C14: from attent attend and intent
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

Word Origin and History for tenting



"to camp in a tent," 1856, from tent (n.). Related: Tented; tenting.



c.1300, "portable shelter of skins or cloths stretched over poles," from Old French tente (12c.), from Medieval Latin tenta "a tent," noun use of fem. singular of Latin tentus "stretched," variant past participle of tendere "to stretch" (see tenet). The notion is of "stretching" hides over a framework. Tent caterpillar first recorded 1854.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper