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

  • Date: 13th century


  • 1 a : having a soft or yielding texture : easily broken, cut, or damaged : delicate, fragile <tender feet>
b : easily chewed : succulent
  • 2 a : physically weak : not able to endure hardship
b : immature, young <children of tender age>
c : incapable of resisting cold : not hardy <tender perennials>

For lessons on the topic of Tenderness, follow this link.

  • 3 : marked by, responding to, or expressing the softer emotions : fond, loving <a tender lover>
  • 4 a : showing care : considerate, solicitous <tender regard>
b : highly susceptible to impressions or emotions : impressionable <a tender conscience>
  • 5 a : 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>
  • 6 obsolete : dear, precious
  • 7 a : 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

— ten·der·ly adverb — ten·der·ness noun