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See more synonyms for tenderloin on Thesaurus.com
  1. (in beef or pork) the tender meat of the muscle running through the sirloin and terminating before the ribs.
  2. a cut of beef lying between the sirloin and ribs.
  3. (initial capital letter)
    1. (formerly) a district in New York City noted for corruption and vice: so called because police there could eat well from their bribes.
    2. a similar district in any U.S. city.
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Origin of tenderloin

An Americanism dating back to 1820–30; tender1 + loin
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words

ghetto, Bowery, favela, tenderloin

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British Dictionary definitions for tenderloin


  1. a tender cut of pork or other meat from between the sirloin and ribs
  2. US a district of a city that is particularly noted for vice and corruption
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Word Origin

sense 2 from Tenderloin, former district of New York City, regarded as an easy source of bribes for a corrupt policeman
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 tenderloin


1828, "tender part of a loin of pork or beef," from tender (adj.) + loin. The slang meaning "police district noted for vice" appeared first 1887 in New York, on the notion of the neighborhood of the chief theaters, restaurants, etc., being the "juciest cut" for graft and blackmail.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper