"You canker blossom!" 3 Shakespearean Insults


[ten-yoo-uh s] /ˈtɛn yu əs/
thin or slender in form, as a thread.
lacking a sound basis, as reasoning; unsubstantiated; weak:
a tenuous argument.
thin in consistency; rare or rarefied.
of slight importance or significance; unsubstantial:
He holds a rather tenuous position in history.
lacking in clarity; vague:
He gave a rather tenuous account of his past life.
Origin of tenuous
1590-1600; tenu(ity) + -ous
Related forms
tenuously, adverb
tenuousness, noun
untenuous, adjective
untenuously, adverb
untenuousness, noun
1. attenuated. 4. insignificant, unimportant, trivial, trifling.
1. thick. 4. important, substantial. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for tenuous
  • It is both rare and dependent, the last tenuous piece on a whirring mobile of coastal life.
  • Dugongs are now legally protected throughout their range, but their populations are still in a tenuous state.
  • Even the presence of an tenuous atmosphere had only been discovered two years prior.
  • Gardens of monkey flower and cave primrose take tenuous hold in aired-out alcoves wet from seeps.
  • The report appears designed to promote the tenuous concept that invasive giant snakes are a national threat.
  • And they were also harvesting something less tangible: a newfound, tenuous harmony.
  • Not to mention that, as with any term newly in vogue, open source is often invoked on tenuous grounds.
  • As to the relationship between that and your habits in thoughts and actions, that is pretty tenuous.
  • The lines connecting these disparate findings are still tenuous, but studies are continuing to bring in new data.
  • And on and on that our current level of scientific knowledge only has tenuous possible ideas about, if any.
British Dictionary definitions for tenuous


insignificant or flimsy: a tenuous argument
slim, fine, or delicate: a tenuous thread
diluted or rarefied in consistency or density: a tenuous fluid
Derived Forms
tenuity (tɛˈnjʊɪtɪ), tenuousness, noun
tenuously, adverb
Word Origin
C16: from Latin tenuis
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 tenuous

1590s, irregularly formed from Latin tenuis "thin," from PIE root *ten- "to stretch" (cf. Sanskrit tanuh "thin," literally "stretched out;" see tenet) + -ous. The correct form with respect to the Latin is tenuious. The sense of "having slight importance, not substantial" is found from c.1817.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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