See more synonyms for tendril on Thesaurus.com
noun Botany.
  1. a threadlike, leafless organ of climbing plants, often growing in spiral form, which attaches itself to or twines round some other body, so as to support the plant.

Origin of tendril

1530–40; earlier tendrel, variant (perhaps by dissimilation) of Middle English tendren, tendron < Middle French tendron shoot, sprout, cartilage
Related formsten·dril·lar, ten·dril·ous, adjectiveten·dril·ly, adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Related Words for tendrils

clasp, coil, curl, ringlet, cirrus

Examples from the Web for tendrils

Contemporary Examples of tendrils

  • As she leaned in to blow out the candles, tendrils of smoke wafted up above her head.

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    Donna's Day

    Kate Betts

    September 11, 2010

  • The tendrils at the ends move with a life of their own, straining to be joined.

    The Daily Beast logo
    The Tantric Sex in Avatar

    Asra Q. Nomani

    March 4, 2010

  • MACRO SHOT – The tendrils INTERWINE with gentle undulations.

    The Daily Beast logo
    The Tantric Sex in Avatar

    Asra Q. Nomani

    March 4, 2010

Historical Examples of tendrils

British Dictionary definitions for tendrils


  1. a specialized threadlike part of a leaf or stem that attaches climbing plants to a support by twining or adhering
  2. something resembling a tendril, such as a wisp of hair
Derived Formstendrillar or tendrilous, adjective

Word Origin for tendril

C16: perhaps from Old French tendron tendril (confused with Old French tendron bud), from Medieval Latin tendō tendon
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 tendrils



1530s, from Middle French tendrillon "bud, shoot, cartilage," perhaps a diminutive of tendron "cartilage," from Old French tendre "soft" (see tender (adj.)), or else from Latin tendere "to stretch, extend" (see tender (v.)).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

tendrils in Science


  1. A slender, coiling plant part, often a modified leaf or leaf part, that helps support the stem of some climbing angiosperms by clinging to or winding around an object. Peas, squash, and grapes produce tendrils.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.