September 02, 2011
- tentacle (noun)
- What does it mean?
- 1 : one of the long flexible structures that stick out usually around the head or mouth of an animal (as a worm or fish) and are used especially for feeling or grasping2 : something that resembles a tentacle; especially : a sensitive hair on a plant
- How do you use it?
- The nautilus, which captures its prey with its numerous tentacles, was one of the most bizarre and intriguing creatures on display at the aquarium.
- Are you a word wiz?
Which one of these words do you think comes from the same root as "tentacle"?You've touched on the right answer with C. Both "tentacle" and "tempt" come from the Latin verb "tentare," which means "to touch or feel" or "to try." An animal's tentacle is a feeler that often causes whatever it feels to end up as a meal. When someone tempts you, he or she may be feeling you out and trying to "touch" some weakness inside of you. The adjective "tentative" is another offspring of "tentare." "Tentative" means "not fully worked out" (as "tentative plans") or "hesitant, uncertain" (as "a tentative smile.") When you are "tentative" about something, it's as if you are trying it out by touching or feeling it, but haven't decided yet whether to really grab onto it.