See more synonyms for tenure on Thesaurus.com
  1. the holding or possessing of anything: the tenure of an office.
  2. the holding of property, especially real property, of a superior in return for services to be rendered.
  3. the period or term of holding something.
  4. status granted to an employee, usually after a probationary period, indicating that the position or employment is permanent.
verb (used with object)
  1. to give tenure to: After she served three years on probation, the committee tenured her.

Origin of tenure

1250–1300; Middle English < Anglo-French; Old French teneure < Vulgar Latin *tenitura, equivalent to *tenit(us) held (for Latin tentus, past participle of tenēre) + -ura -ure
Related formsten·u·ri·al [ten-yoo r-ee-uh l] /tɛnˈyʊər i əl/, adjectiveten·u·ri·al·ly, adverbnon·ten·u·ri·al, adjectivenon·ten·u·ri·al·ly, adverbun·der·ten·ure, noun
Can be confusedtender tenor tenure
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for tenure

Contemporary Examples of tenure

Historical Examples of tenure

  • Never had he been so fond of this body of his as now when his tenure of it was so precarious.

    White Fang

    Jack London

  • All magistrates, whatever be their tenure of office, must give an account of their magistracy.



  • They gave the tenants security of tenure, and the landowners an act of settlement.

  • Not if the tenure of power is dependent upon its equitable administration.


    Rafael Sabatini

  • From this point the history of tenure parts into two branches.

    Ancient Law

    Sir Henry James Sumner Maine

British Dictionary definitions for tenure


  1. the possession or holding of an office or position
  2. the length of time an office, position, etc, lasts; term
  3. mainly US and Canadian the improved security status of a person after having been in the employ of the same company or institution for a specified period
  4. the right to permanent employment until retirement, esp for teachers, lecturers, etc
  5. property law
    1. the holding or occupying of property, esp realty, in return for services rendered, etc
    2. the duration of such holding or occupation
Derived Formstenurial, adjectivetenurially, adverb

Word Origin for tenure

C15: from Old French, from Medieval Latin tenitūra, ultimately 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 tenure

early 15c., "holding of a tenement," from Anglo-French and Old French tenure "a tenure, estate in land" (13c.), from Old French tenir "to hold," from Vulgar Latin *tenire, from Latin tenere "to hold" (see tenet). The sense of "condition or fact of holding a status, position, or occupation" is first attested 1590s. Meaning "guaranteed tenure of office" (usually at a university or school) is recorded from 1957.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper