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From the French tenable, from tenir (to hold); compare tenible.



tenable (comparative more tenable, superlative most tenable)

  1. (of a theory, argument, etc.) capable of being maintained or justified; well-founded
    Back in the 1800s, many did not consider Darwin's theory of evolution to be tenable at all.
    • 1919, Henry Noel Brailsford, The Covenant of Peace: An Essay on the League of Nations[1], page 25:
      Modern war rests on industry, and its evolution has all but abolished the "non-combatant," emptied the old idea of "innocent" trade of meaning, and made even of neutrality a barely tenable status.
    • 1998, Luanna H. Meyer, Making Friends: The Influences of Culture and Development[2], page 391:
      Fitting into a tenable social position among other people requires not only the ability to simultaneously assess the nature of relationships with each person individually but also the ability to comprehend the indirect relational consequences of actions for connected relationships.
    • 2017 February 8, Maxwell Bevilacqua, “Op-Ed: A kinder space in the ivory tower”, in The Tufts Daily:
      In short, it is not a tenable position in our tight-knit community, or in a pluralistic democracy, to ask for a kinder space and to be unkind towards others.
  2. (military) Capable of being defended against assault or attack; defensible
    • 1850, George Grote, A History of Greece; from the Earliest Period to the Close of the Generation Contemporary with Alexander the Great[3], volume 8:
      The island of Melos undoubtedly fell within his general conceptions of tenable empire for Athens.
  3. Fit for habitation, similar, or related use.
    • 1679, Roberta Elizabeth Foote, The ancestors and descendants of Theodore Munroe Foote[4], published 1969, page 14:
      In February, 1679, he was admitted "a planter" of the town and a home lot was granted him "on condition that it should have a tenable house built upon it within two years.
    • 1923, Gene Stratton-Porter, The White Flag[5], page 387:
      They made a day of straightening the leaning stable on its foundations and staying its framework, so that with new roof and sheathing, it would be a tenable building for many years to come.
    • 1997, Consulting-specifying Engineer[6], volumes 21-22, page 220:
      Protecting or assisting occupant evacuation and safety by maintaining tenable building spaces and exit paths







tenable (plural tenables)

  1. tenable

Further reading[edit]