noun, plural ten·der·foots, ten·der·feet [ten-der-feet] /ˈtɛn dərˌfit/.

  1. a raw, inexperienced person; novice.
  2. a newcomer to the ranching and mining regions of the western U.S., unused to hardships.
  3. one in the lowest rank of the Boy Scouts of America or Girl Scouts of America.

noun plural -foots or -feet

  1. a newcomer, esp to the mines or ranches of the southwestern US
  2. (formerly) a beginner in the Scouts or Guides

n.1866, American English, originally of newcomers to ranching or mining districts, from tender (adj.) + foot (n.). The U.S. equivalent of what in Great Britain was generally called a greenhand. As a level in Boy Scouting, it is recorded from 1908. Among the Indians, more than half of every sentence is expressed by signs. And miners illustrate their conversation by the various terms used in mining. I have always noticed how clearly these terms conveyed the idea sought. Awkwardness in comprehending this dialect easily reveals that the hearer bears the disgrace of being a “pilgrim,” or a “tender-foot,” as they style the new emigrant. [“A Year in Montana,” “Atlantic Monthly,” August 1866]

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