Definition of tentacle in English:

Share this entry


Pronunciation: /ˈten(t)ək(ə)l/


1A slender flexible limb or appendage in an animal, especially around the mouth of an invertebrate, used for grasping, moving about, or bearing sense organs.
Example sentences
  • The feature shared by this group is the lophophore, an unusual feeding appendage bearing hollow tentacles.
  • These feet are long, thin, flexible tentacles ending in tiny suction cups.
  • The tentacles around the mouth are disposed in concentric circles, usually forming a series of radial lines rather than being alternately arranged.
1.1(In a plant) a tendril or a sensitive glandular hair.
Example sentences
  • The mychorrhizal fungi live on the roots and physically extend the plant's reach for nutrients and water with hairlike tentacles called hyphae.
  • It was partially obscured by the wilted tentacles of a suspended epiphyte.
  • Nearby spread the prehistoric-looking tentacles of Welwitschia plants that date from the age of the dinosaurs.
1.2Something resembling a tentacle in shape or flexibility: trailing tentacles of vapor
1.3 (usually tentacles) An insidious spread of influence and control: the Party’s tentacles reached into every nook and cranny of people’s lives
More example sentences
  • The bank grew three fold in its network in the '70s and spread its tentacles in seven other states.
  • The drought has spread its tentacles deep inside the jungle.
  • In China, 17 percent of the population has yet to hear of AIDS, even as the disease spreads its tentacles there.



Pronunciation: /ˈten(t)ək(ə)ld/
[also in combination]
Example sentences
  • We knew that this monster is hydra-headed, many tentacled.
  • The common space between offices is dominated by a series of sculptures, such as a cross between an acorn and a human head and a freestanding metallic, tentacled thing strewn across the floor.
  • Nationally-protected tentacled lagoon worms were discovered at the site of the £124m Channel Tunnel Rail Link bridge works over the River Medway.


Pronunciation: /tenˈtakyələr/
Example sentences
  • The grands corps were the powerhouses of the state, and established a tentacular grasp on other key institutions.
  • The response consists of tentacular writhing and mouth opening and is similar to the feeding response seen in A. pallida.
  • Davidson emphasized the Port Authority's openness to criticism by showing how the plan incorporates the original terminal's tentacular tubes, omitted from a first scheme.


Pronunciation: /tenˈtakyələt/
Example sentences
  • The size of the tube of Eodiorygma is only slightly greater than that of the feeding stage of Symbion, which has a U-shaped alimentary tract, tentaculate apparatus, and larval ability to settle on live tissue.
  • Two tentaculate surface deposit feeders, Streblospio benedicti and Marenzelleria viridis were tested; one in the laboratory and one in the field.
  • But look carefully and you will see the tentaculate zooids that confirm their animal nature.


Mid 18th century: anglicized from modern Latin tentaculum, from Latin tentare, temptare 'to feel, try'.

  • This word has been anglicized from modern Latin tentaculum, from Latin tentare ‘to feel, handle, try’. Tentative (late 16th century) also comes from tentare

Words that rhyme with tentacle


For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: ten·ta·cle

Share this entry

What do you find interesting about this word or phrase?

Comments that don't adhere to our Community Guidelines may be moderated or removed.