• synonyms


  1. incapable of being defended, as an argument, thesis, etc.; indefensible.
  2. not fit to be occupied, as an apartment, house, etc.
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Origin of untenable

First recorded in 1640–50; un-1 + tenable
Related formsun·ten·a·bil·i·ty, un·ten·a·ble·ness, noun

Synonyms for untenable

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for untenability

Historical Examples of untenability

  • Indeed, he himself illustrated the untenability of his idea.

    The War With Mexico, Volume I (of 2)

    Justin H. Smith

  • The examination of those who squint demonstrates the untenability of this theory.

  • Storm has pointed out, convincingly it seems to me, the untenability of the latter supposition.

  • One experiment deserves special record, as it also shows the untenability of the blood-poison theory.

  • This point of view illustrates the untenability of another objection to the freedom of the will, viz.


    Frank B. Jevons

British Dictionary definitions for untenability


  1. (of theories, propositions, etc) incapable of being maintained, defended, or vindicated
  2. unable to be maintained against attack
  3. rare (of a house, etc) unfit for occupation
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Derived Formsuntenability or untenableness, noununtenably, adverb
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 untenability



1640s, "incapable of being held against attack," from un- (1) "not" + past participle of tenable. Figurative sense is recorded from 1690s.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper