• synonyms


[ten-uh nt]
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  1. a person or group that rents and occupies land, a house, an office, or the like, from another for a period of time; lessee.
  2. Law. a person who holds or possesses for a time lands, tenements, or personalty of another, usually for rent.
  3. an occupant or inhabitant of any place.
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verb (used with object)
  1. to hold or occupy as a tenant; dwell in; inhabit.
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verb (used without object)
  1. to dwell or live (usually followed by in).
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Origin of tenant

1250–1300; Middle English tena(u)nt < Anglo-French; Middle French tenant, noun use of present participle of tenir to hold ≪ Latin tenēre. See -ant
Related formsten·ant·a·ble, adjectiveten·ant·less, adjectiveten·ant·like, adjectivenon·ten·ant, nounnon·ten·ant·a·ble, adjectiveun·ten·ant·a·ble, adjectiveun·ten·ant·ed, adjective
Can be confusedtenant tenet
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words

populous, developed, settled, owned, populated, locate, occupy, reside, populate, possess, own, sit, keep, cover, stay, maintain, involve, remain, inhabit, hold

Examples from the Web for tenanted

Historical Examples

  • They are barren, till the imagination has tenanted them with possibilities of danger and dismay.


    Thomas Wentworth Higginson

  • The shores of its creeks and fens are tenanted by minks and muskrats.

  • The library was tenanted by Cousin Percy, who was taking a nap on the lounge.

    Cap'n Dan's Daughter

    Joseph C. Lincoln

  • There was a mean suburb in front of our position, tenanted solely by Egyptians.

  • Gilian realised that his imagination, and his imagination only, had tenanted the pew.

British Dictionary definitions for tenanted


  1. a person who holds, occupies, or possesses land or property by any kind of right or title, esp from a landlord under a lease
  2. a person who has the use of a house, flat, etc, subject to the payment of rent
  3. any holder or occupant
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  1. (tr) to hold (land or property) as a tenant
  2. (intr foll by in) rare to dwell
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Derived Formstenantable, adjectivetenantless, adjectivetenant-like, adjective

Word Origin

C14: from Old French, literally: (one who is) holding, from tenir to hold, from Latin tenēre
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 tenanted



early 14c., "person who holds lands by title or by lease," from Anglo-French tenaunt (late 13c.), Old French tenant (12c.), noun use of present participle of tenir "to hold," from Latin tenere "hold, keep" (see tenet).

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper