- soft or delicate in substance; not hard or tough: a tender steak.
- weak or delicate in constitution; not strong or hardy.
- (of plants) unable to withstand freezing temperatures.
- young or immature: children of tender age.
- delicate or soft in quality: tender blue.
- delicate, soft, or gentle: the tender touch of her hand.
- easily moved to sympathy or compassion; kind: a tender heart.
- affectionate or loving; sentimental or amatory: a tender glance.
- considerate or careful; chary or reluctant (usually followed by of).
- acutely or painfully sensitive: a tender bruise.
- easily distressed; readily made uneasy: a tender conscience.
- yielding readily to force or pressure; easily broken; fragile.
- of a delicate or ticklish nature; requiring careful or tactful handling: a tender subject.
- Nautical. crank2(def 1).
- to make tender.
- Archaic. to regard or treat tenderly.
Origin of tender1
Examples from the Web for tenderness
Nevertheless, they love each other with a tenderness that drives them to despair over their 31 years of marriage.Sebastian Barry’s Quarrel With Irish History
May 7, 2014
Their interlocked fingers are an expression of fear, not tenderness.Khmer Rouge’s Bloodiest Murderers on Trial
October 20, 2013
His music bled menace and lust, but also tenderness and vulnerability and an overpowering romantic lyricism.Why Elvis Presley Never Really Died
August 16, 2013
Somehow their flaws seem insignificant in the face of their tenderness toward each other.‘Justified’: Joelle Carter on Last Night’s Explosive Episode
March 20, 2013
Sometimes in the midst of a tragedy like the Newton massacre, we witness incredible acts of valor, tenderness, grace, and decency.Campbell Brown: Keep Newtown Off the Culture War Battlefield
December 21, 2012
They were a hard-faced lot; he had not picked them for tenderness.Way of the Lawless
It is to the length of these fibers that the tenderness of meat is due.Woman's Institute Library of Cookery, Vol. 3
Woman's Institute of Domestic Arts and Sciences
Since the death of her father, there had been none on whom she could lavish the great gifts of her tenderness.Within the Law
Fidelity and tenderness—those would be hers if she married him.
At thirty a man should look back with tenderness, forward with hope.
- easily broken, cut, or crushed; soft; not tougha tender steak
- easily damaged; vulnerable or sensitivea tender youth; at a tender age
- having or expressing warm and affectionate feelingsa tender smile
- kind, merciful, or sympathetica tender heart
- arousing warm feelings; touchinga tender memory
- gentle and delicatea tender breeze
- requiring care in handling; ticklisha tender question
- painful or sorea tender wound
- sensitive to moral or spiritual feelingsa tender conscience
- (postpositive foll by of) careful or protectivetender of one's emotions
- (of a sailing vessel) easily keeled over by a wind; crankCompare stiff (def. 10)
- (tr) rare
- to make tender
- to treat tenderly
- (tr) to give, present, or offerto tender one's resignation; tender a bid
- (intr foll by for) to make a formal offer or estimate for (a job or contract)
- (tr) law to offer (money or goods) in settlement of a debt or claim
- the act or an instance of tendering; offer
- commerce a formal offer to supply specified goods or services at a stated cost or rate
- something, esp money, used as an official medium of paymentlegal tender
- a small boat, such as a dinghy, towed or carried by a yacht or ship
- a vehicle drawn behind a steam locomotive to carry the fuel and water
- an ancillary vehicle used to carry supplies, spare parts, etc, for a mobile operation, such as an outside broadcast
- a person who tends
Word Origin and History for tenderness
"soft, easily injured," early 13c., from Old French tendre "soft, delicate, tender" (11c.), from Latin tenerem (nominative tener) "soft, delicate, of tender age," from PIE *ten- "stretch" (see tenet). Meaning "kind, affectionate, loving" first recorded c.1300. Meaning "having the delicacy of youth, immature" is attested from early 14c. Tender-hearted first recorded 1530s.
"to offer formally," 1540s, from Middle French tendre "to offer, hold forth" (11c.), from Latin tendere "to stretch, extend" (see tenet). The retention of the ending of the French infinitive is unusual. The noun meaning "formal offer" is from 1540s; specific sense of "money that may be legally offered as payment" is from 1740.
"person who tends another," late 15c., probably an agent noun formed from Middle English tenden "attend to" (see tend (2)); later extended to locomotive engineers (1825) and barmen (1883). The meaning "small boat used to attend larger ones" first recorded 1670s.
- The condition of being tender or sore to the touch.
- Easily crushed or bruised; fragile.
- Easily hurt; sensitive.
- Painful; sore.
Idioms and Phrases with tenderness
see leave to someone's tender mercies.