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[dih-stend] /dɪˈstɛnd/
verb (used with or without object)
to expand by stretching, as something hollow or elastic:
Habitual overeating had distended his stomach.
to spread in all directions; expand; swell:
The sea distended about them.
Origin of distend
late Middle English
1375-1425; late Middle English (< Anglo-French destendre) < Latin distendere, equivalent to dis- dis-1 + tendere to stretch
Related forms
distender, noun
overdistend, verb
undistend, verb (used with object)
1. See expand. 1, 2. enlarge, bloat.
1, 2. shrink, contract. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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British Dictionary definitions for distend


to expand or be expanded by or as if by pressure from within; swell; inflate
(transitive) to stretch out or extend
(transitive) to magnify in importance; exaggerate
Derived Forms
distender, noun
distensible, adjective
distensibility, noun
distension, distention, noun
Word Origin
C14: from Latin distendere, from dis-1 + tendere to stretch
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for distend

c.1400, from Latin distendere "to swell or stretch out, extend," from dis- "apart" (see dis-) + tendere "to stretch" (see tenet). Related: Distended; distending.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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distend in Medicine

distend di·stend (dĭ-stěnd')
v. dis·tend·ed, dis·tend·ing, dis·tends
To swell out or expand or cause to swell out or expand from or as if from internal pressure.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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