In studying philosophy or theology, I have sometimes heard teachers and others describes the tenants of a particular system. Does this make philosophy a landlord?
There is widespread confusion about the correct word to use in this context. People who use tenant in this fashion have probably heard (but perhaps never seen written) a word meaning “any principle, dogma, belief or doctrine, held as true, especially by an organization.” That word, as stored in their memory, begins and ends with the letter t, but there the word’s specifications end. Since most people have at one time or another been renters of an apartment or house, and the word for renter begins and ends with t (and sounds almost identical; see rant #2), they latch on to that word in this new context.
But alas, they are wrong. A tenant is not a belief or principle according to anyone’s definition. The correct word in this case is tenet. The root of both words lies in the Latin word “to hold,” as in “property holding” or “to hold a belief.” (Spanish students may remember the verb tener; for French students it is tenir.) But to be precise, tikkun olam (repairing the world) is a tenet of Judaism, but pays no rent for the privilege. And former CIA director George Tenet, who may be a very responsible renter, is probably not an integral part of anyone’s dogma or belief system.
Still confused? An -ant lives somewhere. An -et doesn’t.