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tender (adj.)

"soft, easily injured," early 13c., from Old French tendre "soft, delicate; young" (11c.), from Latin tenerem (nominative tener) "soft, delicate; of tender age, youthful," from a derivative of PIE root *ten- "to stretch," on the notion of "stretched," hence "thin," hence "weak" or "young." Compare Sanskrit tarunah "young, tender," Greek teren "tender, delicate," Armenian t'arm "young, fresh, green."

Meaning "kind, affectionate, loving" first recorded early 14c. Meaning "having the delicacy of youth, immature" is attested in English from early 14c. Related: Tenderly; tenderness. Tender-hearted first recorded 1530s.

tender (v.)

"to offer formally," 1540s, from French tendre "to offer, hold forth" (11c.), from Latin tendere "to stretch, extend," from PIE root *ten- "to stretch." The retention of the ending of the French infinitive is unusual (see render (v.) for another example).

tender (n.1)

"person who tends another," late 15c., probably an agent noun formed from Middle English tenden "attend to" (see tend (v.2)); later extended to locomotive engineers (1825) and barmen (1883). The meaning "small boat used to attend larger ones" first recorded 1670s.

tender (n.2)

"formal offer for acceptance," 1540s, from tender (v.). Specific sense of "money offered as payment" is from 1740, in legal tender "currency which by law must be accepted from a debtor" (see legal).

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Definitions of tender from WordNet
1
tender (adj.)
given to sympathy or gentleness or sentimentality;
a tender heart
a tender smile
tender loving care
tender memories
a tender mother
tender (adj.)
hurting;
the tender spot on his jaw
Synonyms: sensitive / sore / raw
tender (adj.)
young and immature;
at a tender age
tender (adj.)
having or displaying warmth or affection;
a tender glance
Synonyms: affectionate / fond / lovesome
tender (adj.)
easy to cut or chew;
tender beef
tender (adj.)
physically untoughened;
tender feet
Synonyms: untoughened
tender (adj.)
(used of boats) inclined to heel over easily under sail;
Synonyms: crank / cranky / tippy
tender (adj.)
(of plants) not hardy; easily killed by adverse growing condition;
tender green shoots
2
tender (n.)
something that can be used as an official medium of payment;
Synonyms: legal tender / stamp
tender (n.)
someone who waits on or tends to or attends to the needs of another;
Synonyms: attendant / attender
tender (n.)
a formal proposal to buy at a specified price;
Synonyms: bid
tender (n.)
car attached to a locomotive to carry fuel and water;
tender (n.)
a boat for communication between ship and shore;
Synonyms: ship's boat / pinnace / cutter
tender (n.)
ship that usually provides supplies to other ships;
Synonyms: supply ship
3
tender (v.)
offer or present for acceptance;
tender (v.)
propose a payment;
Synonyms: offer / bid
tender (v.)
make a tender of; in legal settlements;
tender (v.)
make tender or more tender as by marinating, pounding, or applying a tenderizer;
Synonyms: tenderize / tenderise
From wordnet.princeton.edu