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Etymology 1[edit]

From Latin tenēre, present active infinitive of teneō, from Proto-Italic *tenēō, stative from Proto-Indo-European *ten- (to stretch, draw).


  • IPA(key): /teˈne.re/, [t̪eˈn̺eːr̺e]
  • Hyphenation: te‧né‧re
  • Rhymes: -ere



  1. (transitive) to hold
    tieniti il libro in manohold the book in your hands
    tenetelo a meno che lui scappasse dal istituto
    hold him so that he doesn't escape the institute
    1. to set aside; to conserve
    2. to hold (one's spot in line, etc.)
    3. to reserve
  2. (transitive) to keep
    mi sono tenuto la borsa sul gremboI kept the bag on my lap
    tenere gli occhi apertito keep one's eyes open
    tenere i soldi sotto il materassoto keep the money under the mattress
    tenerlo reclusoto keep him confined
    tenere la parolato keep one's word
  3. (transitive, intransitive) to hold up; to sustain
    quel pilastro tiene l'intero edificio
    that pillar holds up the entire building
    il scaffale tiene al peso dei libri
    the shelf holds up against the weight of the books
    il paese tiene nonostante il virus
    the country is holding up despite the virus
  4. (transitive) continue to wear; to not remove (a garment); to keep on (a garment)
    ora ancora piove, quindi tieni la giacca
    it's still raining, so keep the jacket on
  5. (transitive) to take
    tieni la pennatake the pen
    tieni la sinistratake the left
  6. (transitive, sometimes southern Italy) to have; to possess
    tenere un animale domesticoto have a pet
    puoi tenere i soldi che le avevo prestato
    you can have the money that I had lent her
    (southern Italy)
    tengo una bella casaI have a nice house
    Synonym: avere
  7. (transitive) to treat (in a certain way)
    l'ho sempre tenuta come una bambinaI always treated her as a little girl
  8. (transitive) to have employed
    tiene dieci camerierihe has ten waiters employed
  9. (transitive) to manage
    tenere una trattoriato manage a bistro
  10. (transitive) (of a speech, lesson, etc.) to carry out
  11. (transitive) to have over or keep (at a place)
    tenerla a cenato have her over for dinner
    mi ha tenuto a lavorarehe had me over at work
  12. (transitive) to hold back (an impulse, feeling, etc.)
    tenere' il piantoto hold back one's tears (literally, “one's crying”)
  13. (transitive) to look over or take care of
  14. (transitive) to assume or take up (a behavior, attitude, etc.)
  15. (transitive) to take up (occupy space)
  16. (transitive, familiar) to contain
  17. (transitive, military) to defend (a position, etc.) from enemy attack
    abbiamo tenuto lo sbocco della valle
    we defended the mouth of the valley
  18. (transitive, journalism) to continue coverage of uninteresting or unpressing news, in hopes of future developments
  19. (transitive, literary) to consider or deem; to hold to be
    come egli molto l'amava e molto bella la teneva
    how much he loved her and held her to be very beautiful
  20. (transitive, archaic) to refrain from spending; to be stingy
    (transitive, archaic or literary) to achieve
  21. (intransitive) (of a glue, etc.) to stick or attach well
  22. (intransitive) to be airtight
  23. (intransitive) to seem colorable; to hold water
  24. (intransitive) to last
    un'amore che ha tenuto nonostante le criticitàa love that lasted despite some trying moments
  25. (intransitive) (with per) to support someone's views, positions, etc.
    se tieni per me, votami
    if you support me, vote for me
  26. (intransitive) (with per) to root (for)
  27. (intransitive) (with a) to like or love (in a non romantic way)
  28. (intransitive, economics) (of a currency, stock market, etc.) to remain stable
  29. (intransitive, rare) to look like
Usage notes[edit]

The use of tenere in the sense of avere (to have) is typically nonstandard and often associated with the Neapolitan dialect and region.

Related terms[edit]

Etymology 2[edit]

See the etymology of the main entry.


  • IPA(key): /ˈtɛ.ne.re/, [ˈt̪ɛːn̺er̺e]
  • Rhymes: -ɛnere
  • Hyphenation: tè‧ne‧re


tenere f pl

  1. feminine plural of tenero




tenerē (comparative tenerius, superlative tenerissimē)

  1. tenderly, lovingly




  1. present active infinitive of teneō
  2. second-person singular present passive imperative of teneō


  • tenere in Charlton T. Lewis and Charles Short (1879) A Latin Dictionary, Oxford: Clarendon Press
  • tenere in Charlton T. Lewis (1891) An Elementary Latin Dictionary, New York: Harper & Brothers
  • tenere in Gaffiot, Félix (1934) Dictionnaire illustré Latin-Français, Hachette
  • Carl Meissner; Henry William Auden (1894) Latin Phrase-Book[1], London: Macmillan and Co.
    • (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 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 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 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 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 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 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



From Latin teneo, tenere.



  1. (transitive) to hold
  2. (transitive) to possess