prehensile (adj.)

"seizing or grasping, adapted for taking and holding," 1771, from French préhensile "adapted for grasping" (Buffon), from Latin prehensus, past participle of prehendere "to grasp, seize, get hold of," from prae- "before" (see pre-) + -hendere, from PIE root *ghend- "to seize, take."

Latin -hendere perhaps is related to hedera "ivy," via the notion of "clinging." De Vaan writes, "Of course, ivy is a climbing (or ground-creeping) plant, and one may surmise that its name means 'the grabbing one', but this is just a guess, especially since the morphology is uncommon: no s-stem of this root is attested elsewhere in IE."

updated on October 17, 2020