from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. One that pays rent to use or occupy land, a building, or other property owned by another.
  • n. A dweller in a place; an occupant.
  • n. Law One who holds or possesses lands, tenements, or sometimes personal property by any kind of title.
  • transitive v. To hold as a tenant or be a tenant.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. One who pays a fee (rent) in return for the use of land, buildings, or other property owned by others.
  • v. To hold as, or be, a tenant.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. One who holds or possesses lands, or other real estate, by any kind of right, whether in fee simple, in common, in severalty, for life, for years, or at will; also, one who has the occupation or temporary possession of lands or tenements the title of which is in another; -- correlative to landlord. See Citation from Blackstone, under tenement, 2.
  • n. One who has possession of any place; a dweller; an occupant.
  • transitive v. To hold, occupy, or possess as a tenant.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • To hold or possess as a tenant; occupy.
  • To let out to tenants.
  • To live as a tenant; dwell.
  • A corruption of tenon.
  • n. In law: A person who holds real property by private ownership, by any kind of title, either in fee, for life, for years, or at will.
  • n. More specifically, one who holds under a superior owner, as a lessee or occupant for rent: used thus as correlative to landlord.
  • n. A defendant in a real action. See action, 8 .
  • n. One who has possession of anyplace; a dweller; an occupant.
  • n. In heraldry, same as supporter.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • v. occupy as a tenant
  • n. someone who pays rent to use land or a building or a car that is owned by someone else
  • n. a holder of buildings or lands by any kind of title (as ownership or lease)
  • n. any occupant who dwells in a place


Middle English, from Old French, from present participle of tenir, to hold, from Latin tenēre; see ten- in Indo-European roots.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
First attested 1325, from Anglo-Norman tenaunt, from Old French tenant, present participle of tenir ("to hold"), from Latin tenēre, present active infinitive of teneō ("hold, keep"). (Wiktionary)


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