[ ten-uh nt ]
/ ˈtɛn ənt /


a person or group that rents and occupies land, a house, an office, or the like, from another for a period of time; lessee.
Law. a person who holds or possesses for a time lands, tenements, or personalty of another, usually for rent.
an occupant or inhabitant of any place.

verb (used with object)

to hold or occupy as a tenant; dwell in; inhabit.

verb (used without object)

to dwell or live (usually followed by in).

Nearby words

  1. tenaille,
  2. tenaim,
  3. tenalgia,
  4. tenancy,
  5. tenancy in common,
  6. tenant farmer,
  7. tenant farming,
  8. tenant in chief,
  9. tenant in common,
  10. tenant-in-chief

Origin of tenant

1250–1300; Middle English tena(u)nt < Anglo-French; Middle French tenant, noun use of present participle of tenir to hold ≪ Latin tenēre. See -ant

Related forms
Can be confusedtenant tenet

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

Examples from the Web for untenantable

  • The ship commanded by Harris, was found to be in a decayed state and untenantable.

  • For one thing, on Mondays, the market-day, the Caf Prosper was untenantable.

    Ten Tales|Franois Coppe
  • For not only was the dower-house in an untenantable state, but the weather was very much against them.

    The Squire of Sandal-Side|Amelia Edith Huddleston Barr

British Dictionary definitions for untenantable


/ (ˈtɛnənt) /


a person who holds, occupies, or possesses land or property by any kind of right or title, esp from a landlord under a lease
a person who has the use of a house, flat, etc, subject to the payment of rent
any holder or occupant


(tr) to hold (land or property) as a tenant
(intr foll by in) rare to dwell
Derived Formstenantable, adjectivetenantless, adjectivetenant-like, adjective

Word Origin for tenant

C14: from Old French, literally: (one who is) holding, from tenir to hold, from Latin tenēre

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 untenantable



early 14c., "person who holds lands by title or by lease," from Anglo-French tenaunt (late 13c.), Old French tenant (12c.), noun use of present participle of tenir "to hold," from Latin tenere "hold, keep" (see tenet).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper