This blog is for everyone who uses words.

The ordinary-sized words are for everyone, but the big ones are especially for children.

Monday, 11 August 2014

Spot the frippet: tentacle.


I try not to be prejudiced, but I'm afraid these give me the heebie jeebies.

What is it about tentacles that's so sinister? This can't be a merely personal terror: think of all those tentacles of terror we hear about, of all those chiefs of criminal organisations sending out their tentacles into the surrounding countryside.

Try using the word trunk, instead - the president sent his trunk over the border, searching for the enemy's weak points - it doesn't work, does it.

So, what is so sinister about tentacles? Well, apart from their habit of sliding out from narrow crevices to strangle people, tentacles can call on some pretty serious armoury. Some tentacles have suction discs, and some have hooks. Some tentacles have things like bottle caps on them that act as hole saws, some release sticky threads to capture their victims.

Right. So where are we to spot one (hopefully from a distance)? Octopodes are rare round here, but hydra are to be found in almost any pond (though they're usually only just big enough to see).

If you're near a beach then you might find a sea anemone.

However, the easiest tentacles to see are probably those on a slug or snail.

If you do spot a tentacle then don't forget that some of them can see, smell, and taste.

Yes. So do take care, now.

File:Giant squid tentacle club.jpg

Spot the frippet: tentacle. This word  comes from the Latin temptāre, to feel.


  1. I haven't spotted a tentacle yet, though I do rather like the idea of buying a hat with tentacles, but I was absolutely delighted to spot my favourite plural in the world, 'octopodes'.

    1. I do once remember seeing a jellyfish costume made from a clear umbrella with strips of bubble wrap hanging from it, but a hat with tentacles might be a completely original idea. It'd make sure that no one crowded you on the train, wouldn't it.