[ ten-yoo-uhs ]
/ 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

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for tenuous

British Dictionary definitions for tenuous


/ (ˈtɛnjʊəs) /


insignificant or flimsya tenuous argument
slim, fine, or delicatea tenuous thread
diluted or rarefied in consistency or densitya tenuous fluid

Derived Forms

tenuity (tɛˈnjʊɪtɪ) or tenuousness, nountenuously, adverb

Word Origin for tenuous

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