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See also: Tenuis



Unadapted borrowing from Latin tenuis (thin, fine; weak). Doublet of thin.



tenuis (not comparable)

  1. (linguistics) Of Greek consonants, neither aspirated nor voiced, as [p], [t], [k]
  2. (linguistics) Of obstruents in other languages, not voiced, aspirated, glottalized, or otherwise different in phonation from the prototypical values of the voiceless IPA letters ([p], [t], [k], [f], [θ], [s], [ʃ], etc.).
    • 2016, Malá & Šaffková, editor, ELT Revisited, page 11:
      The superscript equal sign ˭ is here used to denote the Czech tenuis consonant, in this case the plosive [t˭], which lacks aspiration, in order to contrast it with its aspirated counterpart in English [tʰ].


tenuis (plural tenues)

  1. (linguistics) A tenuis consonant.
    • 1887, Max Müller, (Please provide the book title or journal name):
      The tenuis becomes aspirate in Low-German.
    • 1913, John Morris-Jones, A Welsh grammar, page 184:
      Since the explosive was a tenuis before a consonant we have -p m- and -t n-; these combinations were mutated to mh and nh in the following examples, the voicelessness of the tenuis being retained after its assimilation





Inherited from Proto-Indo-European *ténh₂us (thin).[1][2][3] Original u-stem adjective are regularly extended into i-stem ones in Latin, compare gravis, brevis, dulcis, etc.



tenuis (neuter tenue, comparative tenuior, superlative tenuissimus, adverb tenuiter); third-declension two-termination adjective

  1. thin, fine, slender
  2. weak, feeble
    Synonyms: dēbilis, languidus, aeger, frāctus, fessus, īnfirmus, mollis, obnoxius, inops
    Antonyms: praevalēns, fortis, potis, potēns, validus, strēnuus, compos
  3. slight, trifling
  4. delicate, subtle, watery
  5. (transferred sense) phantom
    • 8 CE, Ovid, Fasti 2.565–566:
      nunc animae tenuēs et corpora fūncta sepulcrīs errant
      Now phantom spirits wander abroad, and bodies that have been committed to the tombs
      1851. The Fasti &c of Ovid. Trans. Henry T. Riley. London: H. G. Bohn. pg. 71-72.
    • [1902, George Hempl, “The Duenos Inscription”, in Transactions and Proceedings of the American Philological Association, volume 33 (in English), Boston: Ginn & Company, page 163:
      The mānēs were the ‘rare ones’ or the ‘thin ones,’ the ‘spirits’ or ‘shades’ of the dead, otherwise known as animae tenuēs and umbrae tenuēs.]


Third-declension two-termination adjective.

Number Singular Plural
Case / Gender Masc./Fem. Neuter Masc./Fem. Neuter
Nominative tenuis tenue tenuēs tenuia
Genitive tenuis tenuium
Dative tenuī tenuibus
Accusative tenuem tenue tenuēs
Ablative tenuī tenuibus
Vocative tenuis tenue tenuēs tenuia

Derived terms[edit]

Related terms[edit]



  1. ^ Walde, Alois; Hofmann, Johann Baptist (1954), “tenuis”, in Lateinisches etymologisches Wörterbuch (in German), volume 2, 3rd edition, Heidelberg: Carl Winter, page 666
  2. ^ Pokorny, Julius (1959), “tenu-s”, in Indogermanisches etymologisches Wörterbuch [Indo-European Etymological Dictionary] (in German), volume 3, Bern, München: Francke Verlag, page 1069
  3. ^ De Vaan, Michiel (2008), “tenuis”, in Etymological Dictionary of Latin and the other Italic Languages (Leiden Indo-European Etymological Dictionary Series; 7), Leiden, Boston: Brill, →ISBN, page 613f.

Further reading[edit]

  • tenuis”, in Charlton T. Lewis and Charles Short (1879) A Latin Dictionary, Oxford: Clarendon Press
  • tenuis”, in Charlton T. Lewis (1891) An Elementary Latin Dictionary, New York: Harper & Brothers
  • tenuis in Gaffiot, Félix (1934) Dictionnaire illustré latin-français, Hachette.
  • Carl Meißner; Henry William Auden (1894) Latin Phrase-Book[1], London: Macmillan and Co.
    • elevated, moderate, plain style: genus dicendi grave or grande, medium, tenue (cf. Or. 5. 20; 6. 21)
    • meagre diet: victus tenuis (Fin. 2. 28. 90)
    • little money: pecunia exigua or tenuis