Definitions

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

  • n. A twisting, threadlike structure by which a twining plant, such as a grape or cucumber, grasps an object or a plant for support.
  • n. Something, such as a ringlet of hair, that is long, slender, and curling.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A thin, spirally coiling stem that attaches a plant to its support.
  • n. A hair-like tentacle.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • adj. Clasping; climbing as a tendril.
  • n. A slender, leafless portion of a plant by which it becomes attached to a supporting body, after which the tendril usually contracts by coiling spirally.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. In botany, a filiform leafless plant-organ that attaches itself to another body for the purpose of support.
  • Climbing as a tendril, or as by a tendril.

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

  • n. slender stem-like structure by which some twining plants attach themselves to an object for support

Etymologies

French tendrillon, from Old French, diminutive of tendron, young shoot, from tendre, tender; see tender1.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)

Examples

  • The colony spread out a thin tendril and consumed each.

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  • You wake to find a wet snow has sneaked in after midnight wrapping the branches with an airy gauze, spangled with diamonds so that every snarly twig and tendril is an epiphany of white etched against the purplish-blue of an undecided sky.

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  • I begin to think that one of the commonest means of transition is the same individual plant having the same part in different states: thus Corydalis claviculata, if you look to one leaf, may be called a tendril-bearer; if you look to another leaf it may be called a leaf-climber.

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  • You correctly point out that the Black Walnut has compound leaves but then incorrectly identify the leaflets as leaves, and call a tendril what is actually the rachis of the leaf.

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  • The companions wandered beneath the staring eye of the sun, following Big Zojja, as Little Zojja used her cockpit cage to pick up a telltale tendril of magic.

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  • But then a tendril of irritation reached him, a fragment of emotion carried into his mind by an empathic projection—a strong empathic projection.

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  • Violet noticed a tendril of black hair peeking out of the comforter, and one white hand.

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  • It is my Sacred Heart … It is (metaphorically) wearing my heart on my sleeve … It is a tendril unfurling … It is a knot untied … It is a release …

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  • As the light got brighter, he was able to move his eyes enough to get a look at the tendril right in front of his face.

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  • Maybe he managed to doze awhile, maybe he fainted, but a tendril slithered along the inside of one of his legs a little too close to his crotch.

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  • "Undue aestheticism in representing sexual behaviour can also have harmful effects. The inauthenticity of sexual fantasy as it is stimulated by commercial representations of the woman as sex object leaves many immature men unable to cope with the eventual discovery that women do not feel smooth and velvety all over, that their pubic hair exists and is not swans'-down or vine tendrils, that a woman in heat does not smell like a bed of roses."
    - 'Seduction is a four-letter word', Germaine Greer in Playboy, 1973.

    April 14, 2008