A tentacle is long, ropey thing that sticks out of an animal’s face. You probably think they’re gross. Octopuses probably think they’re cute.

You can use the word tentacle when referring to all kinds of things that grasp and hold, not just slithery creatures like octopi and jellyfish. But the word does have creepy associations, which is why “the tentacles of organized crime” is a more common expression than, say, the “tentacles of friendship.”

Definitions of tentacle

n any of various elongated tactile or prehensile flexible organs that occur on the head or near the mouth in many animals; used for feeling or grasping or locomotion

antenna, feeler
one of a pair of mobile appendages on the head of e.g. insects and crustaceans; typically sensitive to touch and taste
barbel, feeler
slender tactile process on the jaws of a fish
Type of:
appendage, outgrowth, process
a natural prolongation or projection from a part of an organism either animal or plant

n something that acts like a tentacle in its ability to grasp and hold

“caught in the tentacles of organized crime”
Type of:
grasp, grip
an intellectual hold or understanding

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