Hold a Perfect "Ten"


Quick Summary

The Latin root word ten means “hold.” This root is the word origin of many English vocabulary words, including maintenance, tenor, and tenacious. Perhaps the easiest way to remember this root word is through the English noun tenant, for a tenant “holds” the lease of the property where she lives.

The Latin root word ten means “hold.” Let’s see what we can do to “hold” the root ten firmly in your memory.

Have you ever been a tenant in an apartment? If so, you know that, as a tenant, you were the “holder” of the lease. There was probably a maintenance crew that worked in the apartment complex where you lived. A maintenance crew “holds” everything in good order by means of regular repair. There may also have been tennis courts where you lived. The server in the original game of tennis used to shout the French command tenez!, or “Hold!” before he served to warn his opponent; tenez!, in turn, came from the Latin verb tenere, "to “hold.”

A tenable theory is one that is able to be “held” because it is rationally defensible in an argument. Often people will put forth certain tenets when they argue, that is, beliefs or opinions that they “hold” as truths. People will often be very tenacious when defending those opinions, “holding” on to them and not letting go no matter what.

A lieutenant is an officer who “holds” the place of another more senior officer, acting as his deputy. If you are a professor and have just been offered tenure at the university where you work, you are now able to permanently “hold” on to your position. The word tenor describes the male voice that “holds” the melody in a piece of music, or can refer to a line of thinking that “holds” throughout a written or spoken work.

Last, but certainly not least, especially if you’re hungry, is the word sustenance. This word usually refers to food that sustains you, or “holds” you in good health.

The ten words we’ve discussed can help you remember that the root word ten means “hold.” “Holding” the meaning of ten in mind will offer much sustenance to your vocabulary prowess!

  1. tenant: one who “holds” a lease
  2. maintenance: a “holding” of a property in good order
  3. tenable: of a position that can be “held”
  4. tenet: a belief or opinion that is “held”
  5. tenacious: a “holding” on to something
  6. lieutenant: “holds” the place of a superior officer
  7. tenure: permanent “holding” of a professorship
  8. tenor: male voice that “holds” the melodic line
  9. sustenance: food that “holds” your body in good health, or holds you from under, thus supporting you

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