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[ten-tuh-kuh l] /ˈtɛn tə kəl/
Zoology. any of various slender, flexible processes or appendages in animals, especially invertebrates, that serve as organs of touch, prehension, etc.; feeler.
Botany. a sensitive filament or process, as one of the glandular hairs of the sundew.
Origin of tentacle
1755-65; < New Latin tentāculum, equivalent to Latin tentā(re) (variant of temptāre to feel, probe) + -culum -cule2
Related forms
[ten-tak-yuh-ler] /tɛnˈtæk yə lər/ (Show IPA),
tentaclelike, tentaculoid, adjective
intertentacular, adjective
subtentacular, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for tentacle
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • The tentacle disappeared into the mass of the baffled hunter.

  • Then he baited his two hooks with bits of tentacle and threw them overboard.

    The Harbor of Doubt Frank Williams
  • First one tentacle, then another, and finally one is pulled under and devoured.


    Stephen French Whitman
  • He raised a tentacle to still Crownwall's immediate exclamation of protest.

    Upstarts L. J. Stecher
  • Where was that spot to which the tentacle of the monster could not reach?

    The Octopus Frank Norris
  • It was an octopus in a fathomless sea extending a tentacle to grasp him.

    Riddle of the Storm Roy J. Snell
  • Soon as I flipped the lighter on, he shot up a tentacle and took it out of my hand.

    Do Unto Others Mark Clifton
  • There was not a twitch of a tentacle as we came to a halt beside it.

    Do Unto Others Mark Clifton
  • At that moment a tentacle was writhing its way around his thick neck.

British Dictionary definitions for tentacle


any of various elongated flexible organs that occur near the mouth in many invertebrates and are used for feeding, grasping, etc
any of the hairs on the leaf of an insectivorous plant that are used to capture prey
something resembling a tentacle, esp in its ability to reach out or grasp
Derived Forms
tentacled, adjective
tentacle-like, tentaculoid (tɛnˈtækjʊˌlɔɪd) adjective
tentacular (tɛnˈtækjʊlə) adjective
Word Origin
C18: from New Latin tentāculum, from Latin tentāre, variant of temptāre to feel
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 tentacle

1762, from Modern Latin tentaculum "feeler," from Latin tentare "to feel, try" (variant of temptare "to feel, try, test") + -culum, diminutive suffix.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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tentacle in Medicine

tentacle ten·ta·cle (těn'tə-kəl)
An elongated, flexible, unsegmented extension, as one of those surrounding the mouth or oral cavity of the squid, used for feeling, grasping, or locomotion.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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tentacle in Science
A narrow, flexible, unjointed part extending from the body of certain animals, such as an octopus, jellyfish, or sea anemone. Tentacles are used for feeling, grasping, or moving.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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