Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • adj. Adapted for seizing, grasping, or holding, especially by wrapping around an object: a monkey's prehensile tail.
  • adj. Having keen intellect; insightful.
  • adj. Greedy; grasping.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • adj. Able to take hold of and clasp objects; adapted for grasping especially by wrapping around an object.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • adj. Adapted to seize or grasp; seizing; grasping.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • Seizing or grasping; taking and holding; adapted for prehension; especially, fitted for grasping or holding by folding, wrapping, or curving around the object prehended: as, the prehensile tail of a monkey or an opossum. Also prehensory. See cut above, and cuts at Cebinæ, marmose, musk-cavy, opossum, and spider-monkey.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • adj. adapted for grasping especially by wrapping around an object
  • adj. having a keen intellect
  • adj. immoderately desirous of acquiring e.g. wealth

Etymologies

French préhensile, from Latin prehēnsus, past participle of prehendere, to grasp.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From French préhensile, from Latin perfect passive participle prehēnsus, from prehendō ("grasp, seize"), + adjective suffix -ile, from Latin -ilis. (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • Funny, I read your misspelling as "prehensile", and ignored the absurdity of such an adjective.

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  • "There are some kinds, too, that have what is called prehensile tails; that is, tails by which they can hang themselves to the limb of a tree, and which they use with nearly as much ease as they can their hands.

    Minnie's Pet Monkey

  • The trust they worried most about was “the Money Trust.” Captained by J.P. Morgan, “the financial Gorgon,” the Money Trust was skewered in court and in print by future Supreme Court justice Louis Brandeis, subjected to withering Congressional investigations, excoriated in the exposés of “muckraking” journalists, and depicted by cartoonists as a cabal of prehensile Visigoths in death-heads.

    Steve Fraser: The All-American Occupation

  • On the fatal morning, as Frank Moon's score gathers force, we discover Samsa in bed on his back, his long fingers and prehensile toes waving helplessly above him, like the multiple feet of an insect.

    Jewels; The Metamorphosis – review

  • The species operates in mass numbers, using humans as hosts to new soldiers, with razor sharp claws, a retractable second-mouth and a prehensile tail like a lance.

    TEN of TERROR: Top 10 Movie Monsters « Giant Killer Squid - Film, Comics, News, Reviews and more

  • There were many times when a hideous day (or month, or year) at the job felt a little better when I could look myself in the eye (using a mirror, as opposed to a prehensile eyestalk) and tell myself that at least I made my word quota.

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  • He was hanging upside down from a prehensile tail on a high branch of the oak tree, hands folded across his tweed jacket.

    Egg Hunt

  • When asked about proof of God's views of homosexuality in male seahorses, Biblical scholar Marshall Drummond quoted the passage: "And if a male seahorse lie with a male seahorse, as with female seahorses, both of them have committed marine abomination; their blood shall be upon their bony plates and prehensile tails."

    Spencer Green: Michele Bachmann Counseling Clinic Encouraged Male Seahorses to Go Straight

  • The male possesses the prehensile organs and the superior strength.

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  • And by virtue of his prehensile organs and superior strength he ravishes the females of his species and goes his way.

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