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

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

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

Related Words for untenable

unsound, illogical, unsupportable, flawed

Examples from the Web for untenable

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Historical Examples of untenable

British Dictionary definitions for untenable


  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
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 untenable

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

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper