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

  • adj. Being such that defense or maintenance is impossible: an untenable position.
  • adj. Being such that occupation or habitation is impossible: untenable quarters.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • adj. Not able to be held, as of an opinion or position; unholdable, indefensible.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • Not tenable; that cannot be held in possession: as, an untenable post or fort. That cannot be maintained by argument; not defensible: as, an untenable doctrine.

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

  • adj. (of theories etc) incapable of being defended or justified


from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

un- +‎ tenable


  • Moosa, on Wednesday to intervene in what it called the untenable situation of South Africa's conservation sector.

    ANC Daily News Briefing

  • His plan to offer up the goddess Freia to the giants who built Valhalla is untenable from the start, as it would mean forcing the Gods to give up their eternal youth (her golden apples do a lot more than just keep the doctor away -- and remember, there was no Botox in 19th century Germany).

    Albert Imperato: My Takeaway From the Metropolitan Opera's New Rheingold

  • There are many innocent victims but also many many people that put themselves in untenable positions with purchases that they could barely afford and too little savings to weather a storm.

    Wonk Room » Mortgage Modifications Hitting Roadblocks, As Cram-Down Bill Languishes In Senate

  • Mostly all the European countries tried and find themselves in untenable positions.

    White House hanging on until Blair shows up? - Moe_Lane’s blog - RedState

  • He must be at liberty to assume disguises, to balance precariously in untenable positions, to sacrifice the letter of the truth to the spirit of it.

    Mrs. Miniver

  • The 29-year-old has claimed his position in the England squad is "untenable" - a decision related to the alleged affair between his former Chelsea team-mate John Terry and Vanessa Perroncel, the mother of his young son.

    Top Stories:

  • At a farmers 'regional congress at George, WCAU chairman Chris du Toit described as untenable and draconian proposals allowing farmworkers to strike while receiving all the benefits of life on farms, and trade unions access to farmers' financial statements.

    ANC Daily News Briefing

  • Croghan remarked, as we listened to the uproar, "Fort Stephenson can hardly be called untenable against heavy artillery."


  • His departure - after he said his position was "untenable" - followed those of Canon Chancellor of St Paul's Giles Fraser and part-time chaplain Fraser Dyer.

    BBC News - Home

  • For it is evident that the principle which silly and ignorant fanatics have called untenable is essential to the institution of property, and that, if you take away that principle, you will produce evils resembling those which would be produced by a general confiscation.

    Miscellaneous Writings and Speeches — Volume 4


Log in or sign up to get involved in the conversation. It's quick and easy.

  • Holmes used this word when he was planning out his attack against Moriarty.

    June 24, 2012

  • I eight my leaven

    February 8, 2011

  • all leaven and not quite a baker's dozen

    February 8, 2011

  • nine

    February 8, 2011