[ pri-hen-sil, -sahyl ]
See synonyms for prehensile on
  1. adapted for seizing, grasping, or taking hold of something: a prehensile tail.

  2. able to perceive quickly; having keen mental grasp.

  1. greedy; grasping; avaricious.

Origin of prehensile

1781–85; <French préhensile (coined by Buffon), equivalent to Latin prehens(us) (see prehension) + French -ile-ile

Other words from prehensile

  • pre·hen·sil·i·ty [pree-hen-sil-i-tee], /ˌpri hɛnˈsɪl ɪ ti/, noun
  • non·pre·hen·sile, adjective
  • sub·pre·hen·sile, adjective
  • sub·pre·hen·sil·i·ty, noun

Words Nearby prehensile Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use prehensile in a sentence

  • They grasped things with the strong prehensile grasp of the infant, rather than with the clutch of the miser.

    Humanly Speaking | Samuel McChord Crothers
  • The tall giraffe, with his prehensile lip, raised nearly twenty feet in the air, can browse upon these trees without difficulty.

British Dictionary definitions for prehensile


/ (prɪˈhɛnsaɪl) /

  1. adapted for grasping, esp by wrapping around a support: a prehensile tail

Origin of prehensile

C18: from French préhensile, from Latin prehendere to grasp

Derived forms of prehensile

  • prehensility (ˌpriːhɛnˈsɪlɪtɪ), noun

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

Scientific definitions for prehensile


[ prē-hĕnsəl ]

  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.

The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.