Saturday, October 9, 2010

Verbum Hodiernum: TENEO

Today's verb is TENEO (teneo, tenere, tenui, tentus). The trick with this verb is to understand how it is similar to but also different from the verb habeo, since both of these verbs are usually translated with the word "have" in English.

The root of teneo has to do with "reaching," as you can see in the verbs tendo and extendo. So, you can think about this verb as meaning something like "holding, keeping." The phrase manu tenere means to "grasp" or "seize" something. It can also have the idea of strength and firmness, as in the sense of "holding fast, occupying, defending." Similarly, it can also mean "hold back" or "hinder," as you can see in the dervied verb detineo, "detain." The reflexive phrase se tenere means "to keep back, remain, stay." For more idioms and uses of the verb, there are lots of great details and examples in the Lewis & Short Dictionary online.

There are lots of English words derived from this Latin root. There is the series of verbs "detain, maintain, retain, sustain," etc. There is the noun "tenet" and also "tenure" and "tenant" as well as "tenement." Someone who is "tenacious" (Latin tenax) is someone who fiercely keeps hold of something.

There is also a Latin preposition worth learning: tenus, meaning "reaching something, up to, according to." It takes an ablative complement but, unlike other prepositions, regularly appears AFTER the noun, instead of before (so it's a rather odd pre-position): poplite tenus, "up to the knee, as far as the knee," collo tenus, caelo tenus, etc. You might recognize this preposition from the adverbs formed from it: eatenus, hactenus, etc.

Here are some examples of today's word in Latin sayings and proverbs; for more information, see the page at the Scala Sapientiae, which contains notes on some of the proverbs cited below, as well as additional proverbs:

Quod tuum, tene!

Sua tenenda cuique.

Tene fortiter!

Rem tene; verba sequentur!

Coepta tene.

Tenere non potes, potes non perdere diem.

Litus ama, altum alii teneant.

Omnia probate; quod bonum est, tenete.

Inter utrumque tene; medio tutissimus ibis.

Quae recta, tene.

Tantum scimus, quantum memoria tenemus.

Malo quod teneo quam quod spero.

Nemo tenetur prodere seipsum.

Auribus lupum teneo.

Tenendum certum, dimittendum incertum.

Certum est tenendum, incertum dimittendum.

Multa rogare, rogata tenere, retenta docere: haec tria discipulum faciunt superare magistrum.

Bestia cornibus tenetur, homo verbis suis.

Difficile est tenere quae acceperis, nisi exerceas.

Frena tene et siste impetum.

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