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[ten-dril] /ˈtɛn drɪl/
noun, Botany.
a threadlike, leafless organ of climbing plants, often growing in spiral form, which attaches itself to or twines round some other body, so as to support the plant.
Origin of tendril
1530-40; earlier tendrel, variant (perhaps by dissimilation) of Middle English tendren, tendron < Middle French tendron shoot, sprout, cartilage
Related forms
tendrillar, tendrilous, adjective
tendrilly, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for tendril
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • Yes, she was my girl, devoted to me, attached to me by every tendril of her being.

    The Trail of '98

    Robert W. Service
  • Phototropic response of the tendril of Passiflora: Experiment 145.

  • He plucks the tendril from a vine, smells it, and puts it in his mouth.

    Gorillas & Chimpanzees R. L. Garner
  • Grapevines climbed the posts and tendril shadows were on the ground beneath.

    Mr. Achilles Jennette Lee
  • Ah, never: but as you leave the garden—pluck one tendril from the vine.

    The King of Alsander

    James Elroy Flecker
  • That of course makes it less probable that the tendril will be broken.

    The Romance of Plant Life G. F. Scott Elliot
  • The shape of the tendril is all that can be said in its favour.

    Tropic Days E. J. Banfield
  • It was probably derived from an old form of leaf and tendril.

    Oriental Rugs Walter A. Hawley
  • To every object a memory had attached itself; a memory that had also a tendril in their hearts.

British Dictionary definitions for tendril


a specialized threadlike part of a leaf or stem that attaches climbing plants to a support by twining or adhering
something resembling a tendril, such as a wisp of hair
Derived Forms
tendrillar, tendrilous, adjective
Word Origin
C16: perhaps from Old French tendron tendril (confused with Old French tendron bud), from Medieval Latin tendōtendon
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 tendril

1530s, from Middle French tendrillon "bud, shoot, cartilage," perhaps a diminutive of tendron "cartilage," from Old French tendre "soft" (see tender (adj.)), or else from Latin tendere "to stretch, extend" (see tender (v.)).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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tendril in Science
A slender, coiling plant part, often a modified leaf or leaf part, that helps support the stem of some climbing angiosperms by clinging to or winding around an object. Peas, squash, and grapes produce tendrils.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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