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[ten-uh-buh l] /ˈtɛn ə bəl/
capable of being held, maintained, or defended, as against attack or dispute:
a tenable theory.
capable of being occupied, possessed, held, or enjoyed, as under certain conditions:
a research grant tenable for two years.
Origin of tenable
1570-80; < French: that can be held, equivalent to ten(ir) to hold (≪ Latin tenēre) + -able -able
Related forms
tenability, tenableness, noun
tenably, adverb
nontenability, noun
nontenable, adjective
nontenableness, noun
nontenably, adverb
1. workable, viable, maintainable, warrantable. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for tenable
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • The molecular theory is, unquestionably, tenable under present conditions.

    Steam Steel and Electricity James W. Steele
  • I do not think a single objection which is made to woman suffrage is tenable.

  • Of all conjectures concerning the origin of language, the hypothesis that words are an artificial invention is the least tenable.

  • But this view, if tenable then, has long since been abandoned.

    Albert Gallatin John Austin Stevens
  • Both were so dishevelled, so flushed, so hilarious, that only one supposition was tenable.

    The Furnace Rose Macaulay
  • Truly, it is tenable that the world exists only in consciousness.

  • No view of God is tenable at the present day which regards Him as outside His own creation.

    Gloria Crucis J. H. Beibitz
British Dictionary definitions for tenable


able to be upheld, believed, maintained, or defended
Derived Forms
tenability, tenableness, noun
tenably, adverb
Word Origin
C16: from Old French, 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
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Word Origin and History for tenable

1570s, from Middle French tenable, from Old French (12c.), from tenir "to hold," from Latin tenere "hold, keep" (see tenet).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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