ten·​dril | \ ˈten-drəl How to pronounce tendril (audio) \

Definition of tendril

1 : a leaf, stipule, or stem modified into a slender spirally coiling sensitive organ serving to attach a climbing plant to its support
2 : something suggestive of a tendril creeping tendrils of fog

Illustration of tendril

Illustration of tendril

tendril 1

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from tendril

tendriled or tendrilled \ ˈten-​drəld How to pronounce tendrilled (audio) \ adjective
tendrilous \ ˈten-​drə-​ləs How to pronounce tendrilous (audio) \ adjective

Examples of tendril in a Sentence

A few tendrils of hair framed her face.

Recent Examples on the Web

Its wispy tendrils are only visible when the rest of our star is blotted out by the moon—in a perfect alignment not just for spectacle, but for solar astronomy. Shannon Stirone, WIRED, "Space Photos of the Week: Jupiter’s Big Storm Is Blowing Over," 10 Aug. 2019 All across India, islands of forest are shrinking, and the thin green tendrils on the map — tiger corridors — are being cut by more roads and more farms. New York Times, "Tiger Is Beaten to Death on Video, Outraging India," 26 July 2019 Shouldn’t have been much of a surprise: Immigration is the defining issue of our time, its tendrils entangling themselves in the politics of democracies around the world. Matthew Continetti, National Review, "Pelosi’s House of Pain," 13 July 2019 While some parade-goers adorned their faces in flamboyant makeup, others embellished their tendrils with technicolor. Jennifer Ford, Essence, "The Best Beauty Looks From NYC Pride March," 1 July 2019 Signs of spring surround veal sweetbreads sautéed to a precise snap: fava beans, pea tendrils and rhubarb compote flavored with only enough port to tease out the sweet-bitter elements. Bill Addison, latimes.com, "Is Spago relevant? Our critic talks through three (very different) recent meals," 27 June 2019 Tender eggplant is swathed in spicy miso, draped in springy pea tendrils, and sprinkled with bits of walnut for crunch and contrast. Globe Staff, BostonGlobe.com, "At Kamakura, dinner is part 10-course tone poem, part sake crash course," 18 June 2019 Every winter, Arctic sea ice grows around the pole, its frozen tendrils threading along northern coasts. National Geographic, "The surprising reason polar bears need sea ice to survive," 1 Apr. 2019 Her signature—and polarizing—tendrils were not on display; instead they were pulled back along with the rest of her hair. Jenna Rosenstein, Harper's BAZAAR, "Is Meghan Markle Growing Out Her Signature Tendrils?," 5 July 2018

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.

See More

First Known Use of tendril

1538, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for tendril

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about tendril

Statistics for tendril

Last Updated

25 Aug 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for tendril

The first known use of tendril was in 1538

See more words from the same year

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for tendril



English Language Learners Definition of tendril

: the thin stem of a climbing plant that attaches to walls, fences, etc.
: something that is thin and curly


ten·​dril | \ ˈten-drəl How to pronounce tendril (audio) \

Kids Definition of tendril

1 : a slender leafless winding stem by which some climbing plants attach themselves to a support
2 : something that winds like a plant's tendril tendrils of hair

Keep scrolling for more

More from Merriam-Webster on tendril

Spanish Central: Translation of tendril

Nglish: Translation of tendril for Spanish Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about tendril

Comments on tendril

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


authorized for issue (as a bond)

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

The Exceptions Quiz III

  • one green toy robot amidst many red toy robots
  • Which of these words does not mean "nonsense"?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

Word Winder's CrossWinder

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!