Word Confusion: Tenant versus Tenet

Posted March 20, 2014 by Kathy Davie in Author Resources, Self-Editing, Word Confusions, Writing

Revised as of 11 October 2017

There are four main tenants, or is it tenets?, to social marketing for authors. Hmmm, tenants of social marketing…I suppose you could consider Hugh Howey a tenant of social marketing. After all, his books sell like hotcakes, and he does spend a LOT of time social marketing, so I suppose you could think of him living within social media.

I must confess, I should think tenets might be a more practical term to apply to social marketing. No offense to Howey, and I’m sure he incorporates the four tenets, rules that is, of social marketing.

Religion-wise, a number of faiths believe in the tenet: do unto others. And I don’t think it means for us to move in on each other…!

On the one hand… …and On the Other
Hey, Joe, I hear ya got a new tenant?

Someone new has moved in.

Hey, Joe, I hear ya got a new tenet?

Joe has a new belief or rule.

Those lousy tenants of mine…

What? They’re not paying the rent? They’re trashing the place?

Those lousy tenets of mine…

Hey, if you don’t like the rules…

If you believe in the tenant of true love…

Um, someone is living in…? No, I can’t even wrap my head around this. Not even at my snarkiest.

If you believe in the tenet of true love…

How would you interpret “true love”? Are there rules for it?

Word Confusions…

…started as my way of dealing with a professional frustration with properly spelled words that were out of context in manuscripts I was editing as well as books I was reviewing. It evolved into a sharing of information with y’all. I’m hoping you’ll share with us words that have been a bête noir for you from either end.

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Tenant Tenet
Credit to: Apple Dictionary.com; Dictionary.com provided a definition for tenant and sentence examples of its verb usage; Merriam-Webster

“Ex-Broker Hit with 20k Fine for Alleged Discrimination” courtesy of The Real Deal

Ya gotta be nice to every tenant.

“Tenet 2” courtesy of Bob, the Angry Flower

Part of Grammar:
Noun 1;
Verb 2, intransitive & transitive

Plural for the noun and third person present verb: tenants
Past tense or past participle: tenanted
Gerund or present participle: tenanting

Plural: tenets
A person who occupies land or property rented from a landlord

[Law] A person holding real property by private ownership

Verb, intransitive:
Usually tenanted in

To dwell or live

Verb, transitive:
Usually be tenanted

To hold or occupy as a tenant

Dwell in


A principle or belief, especially one of the main principles of a religion or philosophy
The landlord needs to find a more reliable tenant.

Only tenants are allowed to use the pool.

Tenant rights must be observed.

Verb, intransitive:
Though intended for retail use, it was never fully tenanted, and its potential was never fully realized.

My description can give no idea how suddenly the fountain was thus tenanted , and how soon it was left desolated.

Verb, transitive:
The family did not sell the house, which was both tenanted and in disrepair.

Sometimes it is only particular sorts of trees that are supposed to be tenanted by spirits.

the tenets of classical liberalism

There is a long-held tenet that plumbers’ and shoemakers’ families cope with the need for repairs.

Adjective: tenantable, tenantless, tenantlike, nontenantable
Noun: nontenant
History of the Word:
1 First known use as a noun: 14th century

Late 13th century Anglo-French tenaunt meaning person who holds lands by title or by lease and from the 12th century Old French tenant.

Noun use of present participle of tenir, meaning to hold, from the Latin tenere, meaning hold, keep.

2 First known use as a verb: 1634

First known use: circa 1600

Late 16th century (superseding the earlier tenent) is from the Latin, literally he holds, from the verb tenere.

C’mon, get it out of your system, bitch, whine, moan…which words are your pet peeves?

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Pinterest Photo Credits:

This Pinterest pin is a derivative of two images: Tenants of the Trees, plate 1, by Clarence Hawkes under the CC BY 2.0 license and is sandwiched between an exploded version of Tienhaarassa (1896) by Hugo Simberg, which is in the public domain; both are via Wikimedia Commons.