• synonyms


[ten-uh-muh nt]
  1. Also called tenement house. a run-down and often overcrowded apartment house, especially in a poor section of a large city.
  2. Law.
    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.
  3. British. an apartment or room rented by a tenant.
  4. Archaic. any abode or habitation.
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Origin of tenement

1250–1300; Middle English < Medieval Latin tenēmentum, equivalent to Latin tenē(re) to hold + -mentum -ment
Related formsten·e·men·tal [ten-uh-men-tl] /ˌtɛn əˈmɛn tl/, ten·e·men·ta·ry [ten-uh-men-tuh-ree] /ˌtɛn əˈmɛn tə ri/, adjectiveten·e·ment·ed, adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for tenement-house

Historical Examples of tenement-house

  • I thought that tenement-house work they told us about was most interesting.

    The Wit and Humor of America, Volume X (of X)


  • Thirty per cent of the tenement-house lot must be open to the sun.

  • As farmers they cluster, and seem to covet the intimacies of the tenement-house.

    The Old World in the New

    Edward Alsworth Ross

  • "Perhaps there are some tenement-house Vanderbilts," I suggested moodily.

  • Good average earnings for a tenement-house cigarmaker in summer.

British Dictionary definitions for tenement-house


  1. Also called: tenement building (now esp in Scotland) a large building divided into separate flats
  2. a dwelling place or residence, esp one intended for rent
  3. mainly British a room or flat for rent
  4. property law any form of permanent property, such as land, dwellings, offices, etc
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Derived Formstenemental (ˌtɛnəˈmɛntəl) or tenementary, adjectivetenemented, adjective

Word Origin for tenement

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

Word Origin and History for tenement-house



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).

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper