ten·​der | \ ˈten-dər \

Definition of tender

 (Entry 1 of 7)

1 : marked by, responding to, or expressing the softer emotions : fond, loving a tender lover
2a : showing care : considerate, solicitous tender regard
b : highly susceptible to impressions or emotions : impressionable a tender conscience
3a : easily chewed : succulent
b : having a soft or yielding texture : easily broken, cut, or damaged : delicate, fragile tender feet
4a : sensitive to touch or palpation the bruise was still tender
b : sensitive to injury or insult : touchy tender pride
c : demanding careful and sensitive handling : ticklish a tender situation
d of a boat : easily tipped by an external force
5a : physically weak : not able to endure hardship
b : immature, young children of tender age
c : incapable of resisting cold : not hardy tender perennials
6a : appropriate or conducive to a delicate or sensitive constitution or character : gentle, mild tender breeding tender irony
b : delicate or soft in quality or tone never before heard the piano sound so tender— Elva S. Daniels
7 obsolete : dear, precious


verb (1)
tendered; tendering\ ˈten-​d(ə-​)riŋ \

Definition of tender (Entry 2 of 7)

transitive verb

1 : to present for acceptance : offer tendered my resignation
2 : to make a tender of

intransitive verb

: to make a bid or tender


noun (1), often attributive

Definition of tender (Entry 3 of 7)

1 : an unconditional offer of money or service in satisfaction of a debt or obligation made to save a penalty or forfeiture for nonpayment or nonperformance
2 : an offer or proposal made for acceptance: such as
a : an offer of a bid for a contract
3 : something that may be offered in payment specifically : money


noun (2)

Definition of tender (Entry 4 of 7)

: an often breaded strip of usually breast meat chicken tenders also : the tenderloin of a chicken


noun (3)
tend·​er | \ ˈten-dər \

Definition of tender (Entry 5 of 7)

: one that tends: such as
a(1) : a ship employed to attend other ships (as to supply provisions)
(2) : a boat for communication or transportation between shore and a larger ship
(3) : a warship that provides logistic support
b : a car attached to a steam locomotive for carrying a supply of fuel and water


verb (2)
tendered; tendering\ ˈten-​d(ə-​)riŋ \

Definition of tender (Entry 6 of 7)

transitive verb

1 : to make tender : soften, weaken
2 archaic : to regard or treat with tenderness

intransitive verb

: to become tender


noun (4)

Definition of tender (Entry 7 of 7)


Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from tender


tenderly adverb
tenderness noun

Synonyms & Antonyms for tender

Synonyms: Adjective

delicate, fragile, frail, sensitive

Antonyms: Adjective


Visit the Thesaurus for More 

Examples of tender in a Sentence


He gave her a tender look. She was tender and loving with her new child. Cook the pasta until it is just tender. Her wrist was swollen and tender.
See More

First Known Use of tender


13th century, in the meaning defined at sense 3b

Verb (1)

15th century, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 2

Noun (1)

circa 1543, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Noun (2)

1983, in the meaning defined above

Noun (3)

1675, in the meaning defined above

Verb (2)

14th century, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1

Noun (4)

13th century, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for tender

Adjective and Noun (4)

Middle English, from Anglo-French tendre, from Latin tener; perhaps akin to Latin tenuis thin, slight — more at thin

Verb (1)

Middle English tendren, from Anglo-French tendre offer

Noun (1)

Middle English tendur grant of a license, from Anglo-French tendre offer, tender, from tendre, verb, to stretch, hold out, offer, direct, from Latin tendere to stretch, direct — more at thin

Noun (2)

probably short for tenderloin

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about tender

Statistics for tender

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for tender

The first known use of tender was in the 13th century

See more words from the same century

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for tender



English Language Learners Definition of tender

: very loving and gentle : showing affection and love for someone or something
of food : easy to chew or bite : not tough
: painful when touched


ten·​der | \ ˈten-dər \
tenderer; tenderest

Kids Definition of tender

 (Entry 1 of 4)

1 : not tough a tender steak
2 : delicate sense 4 tender plants
3 : young entry 1 sense 1 He left home at a tender age.
4 : feeling or showing love
5 : very easily hurt a tender scar His tender old feet moved from one smooth rock to another.— Wilson Rawls, Where the Red Fern Grows.

Other Words from tender

tenderly adverb She smiled tenderly.
tenderness noun


tendered; tendering

Kids Definition of tender (Entry 2 of 4)

1 : to offer in payment
2 : to present for acceptance She tendered her resignation.



Kids Definition of tender (Entry 3 of 4)

2 : something (as money) that may be offered in payment


tend·​er | \ ˈten-dər \

Kids Definition of tender (Entry 4 of 4)

1 : a boat that carries passengers or freight to a larger ship
2 : a car attached to a locomotive for carrying fuel or water


ten·​der | \ ˈten-dər \

Medical Definition of tender

: sensitive to touch or palpation tender skin a tender palpable kidney

Other Words from tender

tenderness \ -​nəs \ noun

Keep scrolling for more



Legal Definition of tender

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1a : an act or instance of tendering
b : an unconditional offer of payment or performance (as in discharge of an obligation) that is coupled with a manifestation of willingness and ability to follow through (as by producing a check)
c : tender of delivery sufficient tender
2 : something offered in payment or performance specifically : money the proper amount of tender required — see also legal tender



Legal Definition of tender (Entry 2 of 2)

transitive verb

1a : to make a tender of tender goods tender delivery tender payment tender performance
b : to offer as an amount in settlement of a claim by an injured party against an insured

Note: An insurance company might be obligated to tender the limits of a policy to an injured party when a higher amount is likely to be awarded at trial.

2 : to extend for acceptance or consideration (as in proof of something) especially in a proceeding tender a plea to the court tender an issue
3 : to offer for sale tender shares

intransitive verb

: to offer securities for sale make an informed decision to tender

History and Etymology for tender


Anglo-French tendre to offer, propose for acceptance, literally, to stretch, hold out, from Old French, from Latin tendere

Keep scrolling for more

More from Merriam-Webster on tender

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with tender

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for tender

Spanish Central: Translation of tender

Nglish: Translation of tender for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of tender for Arabic Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about tender

Comments on tender

What made you want to look up tender? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


to deny responsibility for

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

What did you just call me?! A Quiz

  • rows-of-various-emoji
  • If a member of the audience describes your speech as bombastic, does that person mean it is:
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?


Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.


Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!