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verb (used without object)
  1. to be disposed or inclined in action, operation, or effect to do something: The particles tend to unite.
  2. to be disposed toward an idea, emotion, way of thinking, etc.: He tends to be overly optimistic. Her religious philosophy tends toward pantheism.
  3. to lead or conduce, as to some result or resulting condition: measures tending to improved working conditions; Governments are tending toward democracy.
  4. to be inclined to or have a tendency toward a particular quality, state, or degree: This wine tends toward the sweet side.
  5. (of a journey, course, road, etc.) to lead or be directed in a particular direction (usually followed by to, toward, etc.): a path tending toward the beach.

Origin of tend1

1300–50; Middle English tenden < Middle French tendre < Latin tendere to stretch, extend, proceed


verb (used with object)
  1. to attend to by work or services, care, etc.: to tend a fire.
  2. to look after; watch over and care for; minister to or wait on with service: to tend the sick.
  3. Nautical. to handle or attend to (a rope).
verb (used without object)
  1. to attend by action, care, etc. (usually followed by to).
Verb Phrases
  1. tend on/upon, Archaic. to attend or wait upon; minister to; serve: She tended on the sick and dying with infinite compassion.

Origin of tend2

1300–50; Middle English tenden, aphetic variant of attend
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018
British Dictionary definitions for tend to


verb (when intr, usually foll by to or towards)
  1. (when tr, takes an infinitive) to have a general disposition (to do something); be inclinedchildren tend to prefer sweets to meat
  2. (intr) to have or be an influence (towards a specific result); be conducivethe party atmosphere tends to hilarity
  3. (intr) to go or move (in a particular direction)to tend to the south

Word Origin

C14: from Old French tendre, from Latin tendere to stretch


  1. (tr) to care forto tend wounded soldiers
  2. (when intr, often foll by to) to attend (to)to tend to someone's needs
  3. (tr) to handle or controlto tend a fire
  4. (intr often foll by to) informal, mainly US and Canadian to pay attention

Word Origin

C14: variant of attend
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

Word Origin and History for tend to



"to incline, to move in a certain direction," mid-14c., from Old French tendre "stretch, hold forth, offer" (11c.), from Latin tendere "to aim, stretch, extend" (see tenet).



"attend to," early 14c., a shortening of Middle English atenden (see attend).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Idioms and Phrases with tend to

tend to


Apply one's attention, as in We should tend to our business, which is to teach youngsters. This term uses tend in the sense of “attend.” [1300s]


Be disposed or inclined, as in We tend to believe whatever we are told. This term uses tend in the sense of “have a tendency.” [c. 1600]

The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.