ten·​dril ˈten-drəl How to pronounce tendril (audio)
: a leaf, stipule, or stem modified into a slender spirally coiling sensitive organ serving to attach a climbing plant to its support
: something suggestive of a tendril
creeping tendrils of fog
tendriled adjective
or tendrilled
tendrilous adjective

Illustration of tendril

Illustration of tendril
  • tendril 1

Example Sentences

A few tendrils of hair framed her face.
Recent Examples on the Web Brightening the plate was a pretty pea-tendril leaf. Dallas News, 20 Oct. 2022 Malibu, California has long been known as the playground of the rich and famous, a coastal tendril of the 18 million person greater Los Angeles megalopolis. Jeffrey Marlow, Discover Magazine, 29 June 2016 Nelson reached over and grabbed a greenish tendril, hauling it into the boat: bull kelp. Nathaniel Herz, Anchorage Daily News, 21 Dec. 2021 This means the hole whips it around, pulling out a long tendril which then spirals ever closer to the Point Of No Return. Phil Plait, Discover Magazine, 23 Oct. 2012 Must mean something, since Atlanta returned this year as a tendril of the Disney behemoth. Darren Franich, EW.com, 14 Nov. 2022 No one knows exactly when, but from the vast expanse of tropical air around the Equator, atmospheric currents will pluck out a long tendril of water vapor and funnel it toward the West Coast. New York Times, 12 Aug. 2022 Each cosmic red tendril and teal plume has a matching pyro pellet within the firework shell. Popular Mechanics Editors, Popular Mechanics, 30 June 2022 Kylie wore her hair in an updo with a side part and left one long face-framing tendril. Carrie Wittmer, Glamour, 16 May 2022 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'tendril.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

Word History


probably modification of Middle French tendron bud, cartilage, alteration of Old French tenrum, from Vulgar Latin *tenerumen, from Latin tener tender — more at tender entry 1

First Known Use

1538, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of tendril was in 1538

Dictionary Entries Near tendril

Cite this Entry

“Tendril.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/tendril. Accessed 5 Feb. 2023.

Kids Definition


ten·​dril ˈten-drəl How to pronounce tendril (audio)
: a slender leafless winding stem by which some climbing plants fasten themselves to a support
: something that curls like a tendril
tendrils of hair

More from Merriam-Webster on tendril

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
Love words? Need even more definitions?

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

Fashionable Words

  • dog-sunglasses-scarf
  • Which of these items is named for a deadly weapon?
Name That Thing

You know what it looks like… but what is it called?

Solve today's spelling word game by finding as many words as you can with using just 7 letters. Longer words score more points.

Can you make 12 words with 7 letters?