One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
(chiefly of an animal's limb or tail) capable of grasping.‘many monkeys have long, prehensile tails which they use in swinging through the trees’
- ‘The plate in the field guide shows a strange, golden-brown animal with a prehensile tail, hook-like claws and a funny snub nose.’
- ‘Coendou and Sphiggurus are arboreal animals, with long, spineless, prehensile tails and wide foot pads.’
- ‘Their prehensile tails enable them to grasp branches, especially as they climb downward, and to balance on tree branches.’
- ‘Nocturnal and arboreal, they clamber up trees and hang from limbs thanks to long prehensile tails and opposable inside toes (like thumbs) on their hind feet.’
- ‘This animal has a prehensile tail, which means it lives in the treetops.’
Late 18th century: from French préhensile, from Latin prehens- ‘grasped’, from the verb prehendere, from prae ‘before’ + hendere ‘to grasp’.
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