Word curio icon

Word Curio

May 18, 2019

Word of the Day: Tenacious

2 CQ

Word of the Day : May 18, 2019

tenacious \tuh-NAY-shus\ adjective


1 a : not easily pulled apart : cohesive

b : tending to adhere or cling especially to another substance

2 : persistent in maintaining, adhering to, or seeking something valued or desired

3 : retentive

Did You Know?

For the more than 400 years that tenacious has been a part of the English language, it has adhered closely to its Latin antecedent: tenax, an adjective meaning "tending to hold fast." Almost from the first, tenacious could suggest either literal adhesion or figurative stick-to-itiveness. Sandburs are tenacious, and so are athletes who don't let defeat get them down. We use tenacious of a good memory, too—one that has a better than average capacity to hold information. But you can also have too much of a good thing. The addition in Latin of the prefix per- ("thoroughly") to tenax led to the English word pertinacious, meaning "perversely persistent." You might use pertinacious for the likes of rumors and telemarketers, for example.

Aired May 18, 2019

All Merriam-Webster content is available at

  • Recommended Recommended
  • History & In Progress History
  • Browse Library
  • Most Popular Library

Get Personalized Recommendations

Let us help you figure out what to learn! By taking a short interview you’ll be able to specify your learning interests and goals, so we can recommend the perfect courses and lessons to try next.

Start Interview

You don't have any lessons in your history.
Just find something that looks interesting and start learning!

500 characters max