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[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. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for tenderfoot
Historical Examples
  • The tenderfoot, struck by the logic of this reasoning, fell silent.

    Blazed Trail Stories Stewart Edward White
  • Frank guided his "tenderfoot" to the Post store, of which he was manager.

  • You-all just ought to 've seen that tenderfoot pull his freight!

  • A tenderfoot could have told now that they were "in for weather."

    Labrador Days Wilfred Thomason Grenfell
  • People will exaggerate; and the temptation to fill up a more or less gullible "tenderfoot" is often irresistible.

    The houseboat book William F. Waugh
  • The tenderfoot could not down the suspicion stirring in his mind.

    Brand Blotters William MacLeod Raine
  • Such a name as that doesn't make very good sense to a tenderfoot on the first hearing.

    The Strength of the Pines Edison Marshall
  • Otherwise she would have noticed the swift change that transformed the tenderfoot.

    Brand Blotters William MacLeod Raine
  • If the engineer had been the tenderfoot they took him for, the trouble would have culminated quickly.

    The King of Arcadia Francis Lynde
  • Then the said tenderfoot realizes why the creature got the name.

    Wild Animals at Home Ernest Thompson Seton
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
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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
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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.
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