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Alternative forms[edit]


From Proto-Italic *tenēō, stative from Proto-Indo-European *ten- (to stretch, draw). See also Ancient Greek τείνω (teínō), Persian تنیدن(tanidan, to weave), Sanskrit तनोति (tanóti) and Old English þennan.



teneō (present infinitive tenēre, perfect active tenuī, supine tentum); second conjugation

  1. to hold, have; to grasp
  2. to possess, occupy, control
  3. to watch, guard, maintain, defend; to retain, keep
  4. to reach, attain; to gain, acquire, obtain
  5. to hold fast, restrain, detain, check, control; to bind, fetter
  6. (reflexive) to keep back, remain, stay, hold position
  7. to know, grasp, understand, conceive
  8. to recollect, retain knowledge of, remember, bear in mind
  9. to insist, uphold
  10. (of laws) to be binding on; to bind, hold, obligate
  11. to arrive at a place, reach
  12. to set, fix, hold on a fixed position
  13. to hold in prison
  14. to comprise, contain, include, hold
  15. to hold someone's interest, to be interesting (to someone)
    Hic liber me tenet.
    This book interests me; I find this book interesting.
  16. to embrace, hug
  17. to hold on, last


The supine form tenetum occurs only in compound verbs.

   Conjugation of teneō (second conjugation)
indicative singular plural
first second third first second third
active present teneō tenēs tenet tenēmus tenētis tenent
imperfect tenēbam tenēbās tenēbat tenēbāmus tenēbātis tenēbant
future tenēbō tenēbis tenēbit tenēbimus tenēbitis tenēbunt
perfect tenuī tenuistī tenuit tenuimus tenuistis tenuērunt,
pluperfect tenueram tenuerās tenuerat tenuerāmus tenuerātis tenuerant
future perfect tenuerō tenueris tenuerit tenuerimus tenueritis tenuerint
passive present teneor tenēris,
tenētur tenēmur tenēminī tenentur
imperfect tenēbar tenēbāris,
tenēbātur tenēbāmur tenēbāminī tenēbantur
future tenēbor tenēberis,
tenēbitur tenēbimur tenēbiminī tenēbuntur
perfect tentus + present active indicative of sum
pluperfect tentus + imperfect active indicative of sum
future perfect tentus + future active indicative of sum
subjunctive singular plural
first second third first second third
active present teneam teneās teneat teneāmus teneātis teneant
imperfect tenērem tenērēs tenēret tenērēmus tenērētis tenērent
perfect tenuerim tenuerīs tenuerit tenuerīmus tenuerītis tenuerint
pluperfect tenuissem tenuissēs tenuisset tenuissēmus tenuissētis tenuissent
passive present tenear teneāris,
teneātur teneāmur teneāminī teneantur
imperfect tenērer tenērēris,
tenērētur tenērēmur tenērēminī tenērentur
perfect tentus + present active subjunctive of sum
pluperfect tentus + imperfect active subjunctive of sum
imperative singular plural
first second third first second third
active present tenē tenēte
future tenētō tenētō tenētōte tenentō
passive present tenēre tenēminī
future tenētor tenētor tenentor
non-finite forms active passive
present perfect future present perfect future
infinitives tenēre tenuisse tentūrum esse tenērī tentum esse tentum īrī
participles tenēns tentūrus tentus tenendus
verbal nouns gerund supine
genitive dative accusative ablative accusative ablative
tenendī tenendō tenendum tenendō tentum tentū
  • There exists an archaic reduplicated perfect tetinī



Derived terms[edit]


(Some descendants show an extension of /ɲ/ from the 1SG form (< tɛ́njo < teneō) throughout the inflection paradigm; hence Venetian tegner or Franco-Prov. tegnir.)

Reflexes of the late variant tenīre:


Further reading[edit]

  • teneo”, in Charlton T. Lewis and Charles Short (1879) A Latin Dictionary, Oxford: Clarendon Press
  • teneo in Enrico Olivetti, editor (2003-2023) Dizionario Latino, Olivetti Media Communication
  • teneo”, in Charlton T. Lewis (1891) An Elementary Latin Dictionary, New York: Harper & Brothers
  • teneo in Gaffiot, Félix (1934) Dictionnaire illustré latin-français, Hachette
  • Carl Meißner; Henry William Auden (1894) Latin Phrase-Book[1], London: Macmillan and Co.
    • the rain continues: imber tenet (Liv. 23. 44. 6)
    • from one's cradle, from one's earliest childhood: a teneris unguiculis (ἐξ ἁπαλων ὀνύχων) (Fam. 1. 6. 2)
    • I abide by this opinion: illud, hoc teneo
    • I have great hopes that..: magna me spes tenet (with Acc. c. Inf.) (Tusc. 1. 41. 97)
    • (ambiguous) to hold something in one's hand: manu or in manu tenere aliquid
    • (ambiguous) to hold fast in the teeth (also metaphorically, obstinately): mordicus tenere aliquid
    • (ambiguous) to be scarcely able to restrain one's laughter: risum tenere vix posse
    • (ambiguous) to be hardly able to restrain one's tears: lacrimas tenere non posse
    • (ambiguous) to be confined to one's bed: lecto teneri
    • (ambiguous) to be in gross error, seriously misled: magno errore teneri
    • (ambiguous) to abide by one's resolution: propositum, consilium tenere (opp. a proposito deterreri)
    • (ambiguous) to remember a thing perfectly: memoriā tenere aliquid
    • (ambiguous) to remember a thing perfectly: memoriam alicuius rei tenere
    • (ambiguous) to have a vivid recollection of a thing: recenti memoria tenere aliquid
    • (ambiguous) to be enamoured of philosophy: philosophiae (sapientiae) studio teneri (Acad. 1. 2. 4)
    • (ambiguous) to insist on a point: tenere aliquid; stare in aliqua re
    • (ambiguous) to be well versed in Roman history: memoriam rerum gestarum (rerum Romanarum) tenere
    • (ambiguous) to be considered the foremost orator: eloquentiae principatum tenere
    • (ambiguous) to rivet the attention of..: animos tenere
    • (ambiguous) to cherish a hope: spe duci, niti, teneri
    • (ambiguous) to long for a thing, yearn for it: desiderio alicuius rei teneri, affici (more strongly flagrare, incensum esse)
    • (ambiguous) to be bound by one's word; to be on one's honour: fide obstrictum teneri (Pis. 13. 29)
    • (ambiguous) to have an inclination for a thing: studio alicuius rei teneri
    • (ambiguous) to observe moderation, be moderate: modum tenere, retinere, servare, adhibere
    • (ambiguous) to observe the golden mean: mediocritatem tenere (Off. 1. 25. 89)
    • (ambiguous) to remain true to one's principles: institutum tenere
    • (ambiguous) to be bound by oath: iureiurando teneri (Off. 3. 27. 100)
    • (ambiguous) to be the slave of superstition: superstitione teneri, constrictum esse, obligatum esse
    • (ambiguous) to never appear in public: domi se tenere
    • (ambiguous) to be a strict disciplinarian in one's household: severum imperium in suis exercere, tenere (De Sen. 11. 37)
    • (ambiguous) to keep up a usage: consuetudinem suam tenere, retinere,[TR1] servare
    • (ambiguous) to hold the reins of government: clavum rei publicae tenere
    • (ambiguous) to occupy the leading position: principatum tenere, obtinere
    • (ambiguous) to be bound by a law: lege teneri
    • (ambiguous) to have power over some one: imperium tenere (in aliquem)
    • (ambiguous) to keep the citizens in servile subjection: civitatem servitute oppressam tenere (Dom. 51. 131)
    • (ambiguous) to maintain one's right: ius suum tenere, obtinere
    • (ambiguous) to be convicted by some one's evidence: testibus teneri, convictum esse
    • (ambiguous) to be commander-in-chief: imperii summam tenere (Rep. 2. 28)
    • (ambiguous) to hold a mountain: tenere montem (B. G. 1. 22)
    • (ambiguous) to remain inactive in camp: se (quietum) tenere castris
    • (ambiguous) to keep a town in a state of siege: oppidum in obsidione tenere
    • (ambiguous) to hold on one's course: cursum tenere (opp. commutare and deferri)
    • (ambiguous) to steer: clavum tenere
    • (ambiguous) to keep the coast and harbours in a state of blockade: litora ac portus custodia clausos tenere
  • teneo in Ramminger, Johann (accessed 16 July 2016) Neulateinische Wortliste: Ein Wörterbuch des Lateinischen von Petrarca bis 1700[2], pre-publication website, 2005-2016