The Meaning of Tenacity: What It Is and How To Use It

Do you know the definition of tenacity? This guide will provide you with all of the info you need on the word tenacity, including its definition, etymology, example sentences, and more!

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What does the word tenacity mean?

According to Collins English Dictionary and the American Heritage Unabridged Dictionary of the English Language, the word tenacity is a noun that means perseverance or courage. It can also refer to the grip quality of bodies that stops them from parting without considerable force or the effect of attraction. Scientifically according to Your Dictionary, tenacity can also refer to the greatest longitudinal stress a substance can bear without tearing or causing a rupture which is usually expressed in reference to a unit area of the cross section of the substance, as the number of pounds per square inch or in metric measurements, kilograms per square centimeter. The pronunciation of tenacity is tɪnæsɪti.

Many different languages also contain words that mean tenacity. You may notice when looking at this list that some of these translations of tenacity look and sound similar to the word tenacity itself. These are called cognates, which are often formed when two words have the same root or language of origin. This list of translations for the word tenacity is provided by Word Sense.

  •  Indonesian: kengototan‎
  •  Dutch: volhardendheid‎ (fem.)
  •  Tagalog: matibay‎
  •  Portuguese: tenacidade‎ (fem.)
  •  Romanian: tenacitate‎ (fem.)
  •  Latin: tenācitās‎ (fem.)
  •  Irish: diongbháilteacht‎ (fem.)
  •  Greek: επιμονή‎ (fem.)
  •  German: Zähigkeit‎ (fem.), Beharrlichkeit‎ (fem.)
  •  French: ténacité‎ (fem.)
  •  Finnish: sitkeys‎, sinnikkyys‎
  •  Russian: це́пкость‎ (fem.), упо́рство‎ (neut.), вы́держка‎ (fem.)

What are synonyms and antonyms of tenacity?

There are many different words that someone can use in place of the word tenacity. These are called synonyms, which are words and phrases that have the same meaning  as another given word or phrase. Someone might choose to use a synonym in order to avoid repeating themselves, or they might choose to use a synonym to  simply expand their vocabulary and better their understanding of the English language. This list of synonyms for the word tenacity is provided by Thesaurus

  •  firmness
  •  pertinacity
  •  steadfastness
  •  determination
  •  application
  •  courage
  •  nerve
  •  clock
  •  guts
  •  obduracy
  •  resolution
  •  true grit
  •  persistence
  •  moxie
  •  gutsiness
  •  starch
  •  spunk
  •  doggedness
  •  intestinal fortitude
  •  mobility
  •  viscosity
  •  strength of purpose
  •  cohesiveness
  •  chutzpah
  •  stick-to-itiveness
  •  retentiveness
  •  grit
  •  what it takes
  •  resolve
  •  stomach
  •  intransigence
  •  backbone
  •  willfulness
  •  stubbornness
  •  perseverance
  •  heart
  •  diligence
  •  staunchness
  •  resoluteness
  •  inflexibility
  •  obstinacy
  •  guttiness

There are also many different words that have the opposite meaning as the word tenacity. These opposite words are called antonyms. Antonyms are also very useful to know to expand upon a base vocabulary as well as to better one’s understanding of the English language. The below list of antonyms for the word tenacity is also provided by Thesaurus.

  •  phobia
  •  scare
  •  recreancy
  •  revulsion
  •  horror
  •  discomposure
  •  cowardice
  •  tremor
  •  abhorrence
  •  suspicion
  •  reverence
  •  consternation
  •  trepidation
  •  dismay
  •  disquietude
  •  aversion
  •  fright
  •  foreboding
  •  doubt
  •  misgiving
  •  alarm
  •  jitters
  •  uneasiness
  •  panic
  •  worry
  •  presentiment
  •  funk
  •  terror
  •  trembling
  •  apprehension
  •  despair
  •  cold sweat
  •  bête noire 
  •  fragility
  •  brittleness
  •  fear
  •  nightmare
  •  anxiety
  •  creeps
  •  awe
  •  distress
  •  chickenheartedness
  •  qualm
  •  agitation
  •  cold feet
  •  unease
  •  concern
  •  angst
  •  dread
  •  faintheartedness
  •  timidity

What is the origin of the word tenacity?

According to Etymonline, the word tenacity has been used since early c15 as the Middle English tenacite, which comes from the c14 Old French ténacité and the Latin tenacitas. This comes from the Latin tenax/tenāx, the genitive tenacis, meaning holding fast, gripping, clingy, firm, or steadfast and itās. This comes from the Latin tenere/tenēre meaning to hold, and the Proto-Indo-European roots ten meaning to stretch. Related words can be formed using the suffixes ous and ly to form tenacious and tenaciously.  

How can the word tenacity be used in a sentence?

The word tenacity can be used in many different ways in the English language. Using words in a sentence is a great way to memorize their definition. You can also try making flashcards or quizzes for yourself to test your knowledge of different words. Try using this word of the day in a sentence today. You never know, it may become one of your new favorite! Below are several examples of the word tenacity to get you started with using this word. 

She showed great tenacity when she was lost at sea. She made use of every resource at her disposal and never stopped fighting. After nearly a month of rationing her goods and surviving out at sea, she was finally rescued by the coast guard. 

His tenacity allowed him to save his entire family, pets included, from the burning building. Some may have called it recklessness, but he used his quick thinking skills and great courage to make sure everyone made it out of the building okay.

While it may have seemed like a normal task to some, Elissa felt like she had great tenacity when she approached the group of girls at the table and asked if she could sit with them. Elissa was extremely shy, but she and her therapist were working on putting herself out there. 

Henry tried to have tenacity when it was his turn to perform in the talent show, but the minute he saw the hundreds of eyes looking at him from the audience, his throat went dry and his hands went clammy. He ran off stage, overcome by stage fright.

Overall, the word tenacity means strength of will, courage, or doggedness. Tenacity is an adjective that comes from Latin and Proto-Indo-European roots. The word tenacity is very commonly used in the English language and can be useful to know in a variety of different circumstances. Try using this word of the day in a sentence today! 


  1. TENACITY Synonyms: 47 Synonyms & Antonyms for TENACITY | Thesaurus 
  2. FEAR Synonyms: 109 Synonyms & Antonyms for FEAR | Thesaurus 
  3. tenacity: meaning, origin, translation | Word Sense 
  4. tenacity | Origin and meaning of tenacity | Online Etymology Dictionary 
  5.  Tenacity definition and meaning | Collins English Dictionary 
  6. Tenacity Meaning | Best 6 Definitions of Tenacity | Your Dictionary