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

  • n. A long-handled, slender, hooked instrument for lifting and holding parts, such as blood vessels, during surgery.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A medical instrument consisting of a sharp hook attached to a handle; used mainly for taking up arteries and the like.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. An instrument consisting of a fine, sharp hook attached to a handle, and used mainly for taking up arteries, and the like.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. A sharp hook, set in a handle, used for picking up arteries in surgical operations, and in dissections.
  • n. In entomology, the pair of microscopic chitinous processes on the under side of the abdomen of podurans or springtails, serving as a catch to hold the elater or springing-organ in place.


Late Latin tenāculum, holder, from Latin tenēre, to hold; see ten- in Indo-European roots.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)



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  • "The instruments gleamed under the smoky sun, bright despite a hazing of disuse.... A small, heavy-toothed saw; scissors, three scalpels... the silver blade of a tongue depressor, a tenaculum..."
    —Diana Gabaldon, Drums of Autumn (NY: Dell, 1997), 135

    January 17, 2010