c. 1300, "holding of immovable property" (such as land or buildings,) from Anglo-French (late 13c.), Old French tenement "fief, land, possessions, property" (12c.), from Medieval Latin tenementum "a holding, fief" (11c.), from Latin tenere "to hold," from PIE root *ten- "to stretch." The meaning "dwelling place, residence" is attested from early 15c.; tenement house "house broken up into apartments, usually in a poor section of a city" is first recorded 1858, American English, from tenement in an earlier sense (especially in Scotland) "large house constructed to be let to a number of tenants" (1690s).
updated on April 17, 2017