Try Our Apps


Avoid these words. Seriously.


[ten-der-foo t] /ˈtɛn dərˌfʊt/
noun, plural tenderfoots, tenderfeet
[ten-der-feet] /ˈtɛn dərˌfit/ (Show IPA)
a raw, inexperienced person; novice.
a newcomer to the ranching and mining regions of the western U.S., unused to hardships.
one in the lowest rank of the Boy Scouts of America or Girl Scouts of America.
Origin of tenderfoot
An Americanism dating back to 1840-50; tender1 + foot Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
Cite This Source
Examples from the Web for tenderfoot
Historical Examples
  • Well,” he said at last, “I might as well say it––I took you for a tenderfoot.

    Hidden Water Dane Coolidge
  • “Oh, well, allowances should be made for a tenderfoot,” she bantered.

    Out of the Depths

    Robert Ames Bennet
  • “You need not worry, Mr. tenderfoot,” the girl flashed back at him.

    Out of the Depths

    Robert Ames Bennet
  • The tenderfoot staked his claim on the chance of selling it again.

    They of the High Trails

    Hamlin Garland
  • Before a boy can become a tenderfoot he must qualify for same.

    Boy Scouts Handbook Boy Scouts of America
  • A tenderfoot, therefore, is superior to the ordinary boy because of his training.

    Boy Scouts Handbook Boy Scouts of America
  • To be a tenderfoot means to occupy the lowest grade in scouting.

    Boy Scouts Handbook Boy Scouts of America
  • Enlist a boy trained by himself in the requirements of a tenderfoot.

    Boy Scouts Handbook Boy Scouts of America
  • "No need to remind you I'm a tenderfoot," he jibed at himself.

    Bloom of Cactus Robert Ames Bennet
  • The tenderfoot was seated on a small trunk just outside the door.

    Blazed Trail Stories Stewart Edward White
British Dictionary definitions for tenderfoot


noun (pl) -foots, -feet
a newcomer, esp to the mines or ranches of the southwestern US
(formerly) a beginner in the Scouts or Guides
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
Cite This Source
Word Origin and History for tenderfoot

1866, American English, originally of newcomers to ranching or mining districts, from tender (adj.) + foot (n.). The U.S. equivalent of what in Great Britain was generally called a greenhand. As a level in Boy Scouting, it is recorded from 1908.

Among the Indians, more than half of every sentence is expressed by signs. And miners illustrate their conversation by the various terms used in mining. I have always noticed how clearly these terms conveyed the idea sought. Awkwardness in comprehending this dialect easily reveals that the hearer bears the disgrace of being a "pilgrim," or a "tender-foot," as they style the new emigrant. ["A Year in Montana," "Atlantic Monthly," August 1866]

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
Cite This Source
Slang definitions & phrases for tenderfoot



A newcomer; neophyte; callow person; greenhorn (1881+)

The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D.
Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers.
Cite This Source

Word of the Day

Nearby words for tenderfoot

Word Value for tenderfoot

Scrabble Words With Friends