early 14c., "person who holds lands by title or by lease," from Anglo-French tenaunt (late 13c.), Old French tenant "possessor; feudal tenant" (12c.), noun use of present participle of tenir "to hold," from Latin tenere "hold, keep, grasp," from PIE root *ten- "to stretch." Related: Tenancy. Tenant-farmer attested from 1748.
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