View synonyms for tenuous


[ ten-yoo-uhs ]


  1. lacking a sound basis, as reasoning; unsubstantiated; weak:

    a tenuous argument.

  2. of slight importance or significance:

    He holds a rather tenuous position in history.

    Synonyms: trifling, trivial, insignificant

    Antonyms: substantial, important

  3. lacking in clarity; vague:

    He gave a rather tenuous account of his past life.

  4. thin or slender in form, as a thread.

    Synonyms: attenuated

    Antonyms: thick

  5. thin in consistency; rare or rarefied.


/ ˈtɛnjʊəs; tɛˈnjʊɪtɪ /


  1. insignificant or flimsy

    a tenuous argument

  2. slim, fine, or delicate

    a tenuous thread

  3. diluted or rarefied in consistency or density

    a tenuous fluid

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Derived Forms

  • tenuity, noun
  • ˈtenuously, adverb

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Other Words From

  • tenu·ous·ly adverb
  • tenu·ous·ness noun
  • un·tenu·ous adjective
  • un·tenu·ous·ly adverb
  • un·tenu·ous·ness noun

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Word History and Origins

Origin of tenuous1

First recorded in 1590–1600; tenu(ity) + -ous

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Word History and Origins

Origin of tenuous1

C16: from Latin tenuis

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Example Sentences

The nation’s most popular and prosperous pro sports league wouldn’t allow even that tenuous link between its players and bettors, citing a policy prohibiting appearances associated with gambling establishments.

The gains were real, if uneven and often tenuous, undermined by the insecurity that the decades-long conflict brought.

From Vox

Climbing it involves a tenuous balance of keeping her feet high enough to maintain friction but low enough to push upward.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, given the tenuous grasp on reality enjoyed by virtually everyone involved, it’s not clear that an Arizona-audit is even possible in the Peach State.

This was apparent in real time as officials touted tenuous or unproven links to antifa even as Justice Department arrests failed to bolster that idea.

Her hold on her position at the hospital—and thus, her survival—is tenuous and she knows it.

Perhaps his reluctance stems from the fact that he has only tenuous connections to Hungary these days.

This new, although tenuous, dialogue with Iran offers real possibilities for change.

Though there are many claims that implicate it in improved brain function, the evidence in support of this finding is tenuous.

The relationship between law and ethics, from Selma to Ferguson, is tenuous, and often contentious.

Nancy tried to forget what life was, and smiled and blossomed in tenuous sunrise beauty.

The mind of man is ever the tenuous instrument upon which are playing the invisible forces of inspiration.

Up to the very edge of that life-giving blast of mineral-laden gas the tenuous creatures came crowding.

As they fell on the front ranks of the charging Terrestrials, the form, on which the rays impinged grew suddenly tenuous.

In other spots, drooping above the walls could be seen the giant fronds of banana plants, or tenuous palm tree tops.