Definitions

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

  • n. The quality or condition of being tenuous; lack of thickness, density, or substance.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. Thinness, slenderness.
  • n. Meagreness, paucity.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. The quality or state of being tenuous; thinness, applied to a broad substance; slenderness, applied to anything that is long
  • n. Rarily; rareness; thinness, as of a fluid.
  • n. Poverty; indigence.
  • n. Refinement; delicacy.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. The state of being tenuous or thin; want of substantial thickness or depth; fineness; thinness, as applied to a broad substance, or slenderness, as applied to one that is long.
  • n. Rarity; rareness; thinness, as of a fluid.
  • n. Poverty; indigence.
  • n. Simplicity or plainness; a quality of style opposed to opulence or grandeur.

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

  • n. a rarified quality
  • n. relatively small dimension through an object as opposed to its length or width
  • n. the quality of lacking intensity or substance

Etymologies

Middle English tenuite, from Old French, from Latin tenuitās, thinness, from tenuis, thin; see tenuous.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Latin tenuitas. (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • The lightest portion, whose bubbles are of the greatest tenuity, which is white on account of its finer porosity, rises to the surface, where the caudal filaments sweep it up and gather it into the snowy ribbon which runs along the summit of the nest.

    Social Life in the Insect World

  • Cope commented on this fragility, writing ‘in the extreme tenuity of all its parts, this vertebra exceeds this type of those already described, so that much care was requisite to secure its preservation’ (p. 563), and his drawing also suggests that the vertebra had been subjected to extensive weathering and hence was already fragile.

    Biggest sauropod ever (part…. II)

  • The pottingar delivered his opinion in a most insinuating manner; but he seemed to shrink into something less than his natural tenuity when he saw the blood rise in the old cheek of Simon Glover, and inflame to the temples the complexion of the redoubted smith.

    The Fair Maid of Perth

  • This graceful development of belief, emancipated from dogma and reducing so many substantial bodies to pale shades, so many articles once held as solid realities to the strange tenuity of dreams, was not the Christianity of Voltaire's time, any more than it was that of the Holy Office.

    Voltaire

  • There was no doubt left to me; the atmosphere of the moon was either pure oxygen or air, and capable therefore — unless its tenuity was excessive — of supporting our alien life.

    First Men in the Moon

  • And at this day travelers ascending to the top of the Peak of Tenerife make the ascent by night and not by day, and soon after the rising of the sun are warned and urged by their guides to come down without delay, on account of the danger they run lest the animal spirits should swoon and be suffocated by the tenuity of the air.

    The New Organon

  • He was a small, aged man, very thin and meagre in aspect — so meagre as to conceal in part, by the general tenuity of his aspect, the shortness of his stature.

    Nina Balatka

  • Animals a hundred thousand times smaller than any visible with the naked eye have been discovered; these animalculae, however, move, feed and multiply, establishing the existence of organs of inconceivable tenuity.

    The physiology of taste; or Transcendental gastronomy. Illustrated by anecdotes of distinguished artists and statesmen of both continents by Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin. Translated from the last Paris edition by Fayette Robinson.

  • He was a small man, not ill-made by Nature, but reduced to unnatural tenuity by dissipation-a corporeal attribute of which he was apt to boast, as it enabled him, as he said, to put himself up at 7st 7lb without any ‘d — — nonsense of not eating and drinking’.

    Doctor Thorne

  • As it came nearer to the ribs and spine of the stranded pilchard boat, it became apparent from a certain tenuity in its blackness that this spot possessed four legs; and moment by moment it became more unmistakable that it was composed of the persons of two young men.

    A Haunted House, and other short stories

Comments

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  • Contains its own scrabble score (ten).

    June 25, 2011

  • That impermanence, indeed, the ramshackle tenuity of the life, were part of its beauty.

    - Malcolm Lowry, October Ferry to Gabriola

    July 30, 2008