[ ten-der-foo t ]
/ ˈtɛn dərˌfʊt /

noun, plural ten·der·foots, ten·der·feet [ten-der-feet] /ˈtɛn dərˌfit/.

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.

Nearby words

  1. tender mercies,
  2. tender offer,
  3. tender-hearted,
  4. tender-minded,
  5. tenderable,
  6. tenderhearted,
  7. tenderize,
  8. tenderizer,
  9. tenderloin,
  10. tenderly

Origin of tenderfoot

An Americanism dating back to 1840–50; tender1 + foot

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for tenderfoot

British Dictionary definitions for tenderfoot


/ (ˈtɛndəˌfʊt) /

noun plural -foots or -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

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