Definition of tenuous in English:

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Pronunciation: /ˈtɛnjʊəs/


1Very weak or slight: the tenuous link between interest rates and investment
More example sentences
  • Today, I shall mostly be counting minutes, and considering the tenuous link between the words ‘delay’ and ‘deadline.’
  • Every night, it seems we read of yet another instance of a local trader virtually forced out of business by the hike in car park charges or, however tenuous the link, the introduction of car parking charges during the evening.
  • Yes I know the links to Enron are tenuous at best, but since when has that stopped various newspapers.
slight, insubstantial, flimsy, negligible, weak, fragile, shaky, sketchy, doubtful, dubious, questionable, suspect;
vague, nebulous, hazy, unspecific, indefinite, indeterminate
1.1Very slender or fine; insubstantial: a tenuous cloud
More example sentences
  • This is similar to a tenuous dust cloud on Earth, visible only from the light it scatters or absorbs.
  • Astronomical observations suggest that the Sun is presently moving through a warm, tenuous interstellar cloud made of dust and gas, one of several that make up our local galactic neighbourhood.
  • It would seem to be towards the edge of the power, if at all, and if it were within it, the particular thing might be regarded as insubstantial, tenuous or distant.
fine, thin, slender, attenuated, delicate, gossamer, fragile



Pronunciation: /ˈtɛnjʊəsli/
Example sentences
  • This is a memoir of Bloom tenuously disguised as a novel.
  • Universities, having once led the way on the content and standards of public discussion, even if only tenuously and intermittently, now simply follow them.
  • The brass-knuckles crowd believes that virtually any image or tenuously defensible statement is fair game in the street brawl of contemporary politics.


Pronunciation: /ˈtɛnjʊəsnəs/
Example sentences
  • There is no fragility or tenuousness to his character.
  • But it is right that the tenuousness of the evidence for these widely-accepted ‘Homeric cults' should be brought out.
  • One of the men vividly expresses the tenuousness of his situation when he says, ‘I feel like I'm in this web, and every time I make a move, the web shakes.’


Late 16th century: formed irregularly from Latin tenuis 'thin' + -ous.

  • thin from Old English:

    The Old English word thin shares an ancient root with Latin tenuis ‘thin, fine, shallow’, the source of extenuate (mid 16th century) and tenuous (late 16th century). An action which is unimportant in itself, but likely to lead to more serious developments is sometimes described as the thin end of the wedge. The idea here is of something being levered open by the insertion of the edge of a wedge into a narrow crack to widen the opening so that the thicker part can also pass through. The thin red line used to be a name for the British army, in reference to the traditional scarlet uniform. The phrase first occurs in The Times of 24 January 1855, reporting a debate about the distribution of medals for the Crimean War in the House of Lords at which the Earl of Ellenborough who spoke of ‘the services of that “thin red line” which had met and routed the Russian cavalry.’ It has now become so much part of our language that the colour may be altered to change the meaning—the thin blue line can mean the police force.

Words that rhyme with tenuous

ingenuous, strenuous

For editors and proofreaders

Line breaks: tenu|ous

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