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90s Slang You Should Know


[ten-yoo-uh s] /ˈtɛn yu əs/
thin or slender in form, as a thread.
lacking a sound basis, as reasoning; unsubstantiated; weak:
a tenuous argument.
thin in consistency; rare or rarefied.
of slight importance or significance; unsubstantial:
He holds a rather tenuous position in history.
lacking in clarity; vague:
He gave a rather tenuous account of his past life.
Origin of tenuous
First recorded in 1590-1600; tenu(ity) + -ous
Related forms
tenuously, adverb
tenuousness, noun
untenuous, adjective
untenuously, adverb
untenuousness, noun
1. attenuated. 4. insignificant, unimportant, trivial, trifling.
1. thick. 4. important, substantial. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for tenuous
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • But such is the coercive power of gold, albeit in the abstract, that this tenuous vision of wealth had its fascination.

    The Ordeal Charles Egbert Craddock
  • And the tenuous message which passed between them then astounded Shann.

    Storm Over Warlock Andre Norton
  • Far to the right was a tenuous smoke, a suggestion of thinning in the forest, a flash of blue water.

    The Rules of the Game Stewart Edward White
  • Some nests are rudely constructed, and rather loose and tenuous.

  • Branches slapped and tore at her garments—long, tenuous filaments, wet and web-like, drew across her face.

    The Lucky Piece Albert Bigelow Paine
British Dictionary definitions for tenuous


insignificant or flimsy: a tenuous argument
slim, fine, or delicate: a tenuous thread
diluted or rarefied in consistency or density: a tenuous fluid
Derived Forms
tenuity (tɛˈnjʊɪtɪ), tenuousness, noun
tenuously, adverb
Word Origin
C16: from Latin tenuis
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 tenuous

1590s, irregularly formed from Latin tenuis "thin," from PIE root *ten- "to stretch" (cf. Sanskrit tanuh "thin," literally "stretched out;" see tenet) + -ous. The correct form with respect to the Latin is tenuious. The sense of "having slight importance, not substantial" is found from c.1817.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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