• synonyms


[pri-hen-sil, -sahyl]
See more synonyms for prehensile on Thesaurus.com
  1. adapted for seizing, grasping, or taking hold of something: a prehensile tail.
  2. able to perceive quickly; having keen mental grasp.
  3. greedy; grasping; avaricious.
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Origin of prehensile

1781–85; < French préhensile (coined by Buffon), equivalent to Latin prehens(us) (see prehension) + French -ile -ile
Related formspre·hen·sil·i·ty [pree-hen-sil-i-tee] /ˌpri hɛnˈsɪl ɪ ti/, nounnon·pre·hen·sile, adjectivesub·pre·hen·sile, adjectivesub·pre·hen·sil·i·ty, noun
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words


Examples from the Web for prehensile

Historical Examples

  • And where is his monkey that first lost the prehensile power to climb trees?

    Life: Its True Genesis

    R. W. Wright

  • Not all the monkeys of America possess this prehensile power of tail.

  • What is wanted is the comprehensive hand, and not the prehensile tail.

  • The tip of its tail, strange to say, is prehensile, just like that of a spider-monkey.

  • They form, in some sort, the prehensile organs which seize the aliment.

    The Ocean World:

    Louis Figuier

British Dictionary definitions for prehensile


  1. adapted for grasping, esp by wrapping around a supporta prehensile tail
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Derived Formsprehensility (ˌpriːhɛnˈsɪlɪtɪ), noun

Word Origin

C18: from French préhensile, from Latin prehendere to grasp
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

Word Origin and History for prehensile


1771, from French préhensile "adapted for grasping" (Buffon), from Latin prehensus, past participle of prehendere "to grasp, to seize," from prae- "before" (see pre-) + -hendere, related to hedera "ivy," via notion of "clinging," and cognate with Greek khandanein "to take in, hold" (see get (v.)).

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

prehensile in Medicine


(prē-hĕnsəl, -sīl′)
  1. Adapted for seizing, grasping, or holding, especially by wrapping around an object.
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Related formspre′hen•sili•ty (-sĭlĭ-tē) n.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.

prehensile in Science


  1. Adapted for seizing, grasping, or holding, especially by wrapping around an object. The feet of many birds, the tails of monkeys, and the trunks of elephants are prehensile.
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The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.