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, eds., ELT Revisited, p. 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
      The tenuis becomes aspirate in Low-German.
    • 1913, John Morris-Jones, A Welsh grammar, p. 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





From Proto-Italic *tenwis, from Proto-Indo-European *ténh₂us (thin). Cognate with Sanskrit तनु (tanú), Ancient Greek τανύω (tanúō), Old English þynne (whence English thin).



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) 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. The Duenos Inscription. George Hempl. Transactions and Proceedings of the American Philological Association, Volume 33. Ginn & Company. Boston: 1902. Pg. 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 termsEdit

Related termsEdit



  • 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