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90s Slang You Should Know


[uhn-bend] /ʌnˈbɛnd/
verb (used with object), unbent or (Archaic) unbended, unbending.
to straighten from a bent form or position.
to release from the strain of formality, intense effort, etc.; relax:
to unbend one's mind.
to release from tension, as a bow.
  1. to loose or untie, as a sail or rope.
  2. to unfasten from spars or stays, as sails.
verb (used without object), unbent or (Archaic) unbended, unbending.
to relax the strictness of formality or ceremony; act in an easy, genial manner:
Imagine him unbending!
to become unbent; straighten.
Origin of unbend
Middle English word dating back to 1200-50; See origin at un-2, bend1
Related forms
unbendable, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for unbend
Historical Examples
  • Later, after the young year had appropriately been ushered in, when the refreshments were being served, he might unbend somewhat.

    Those Times And These Irvin S. Cobb
  • And be it remembered that our dear Doctor could unbend—that is, in fitting time and place.

    The Dew of Their Youth S. R. Crockett
  • Dolly did not join in her mother's laugh nor unbend in the least.

    The Marriage of Elinor Margaret Oliphant
  • They had never before seen him unbend to anybody as he did to George.

    George at the Fort Harry Castlemon
  • She could relax and unbend again; she was safe from his cyclones.

  • It was not to be expected that such a man as he should unbend as the reverend chairman did.

    Salem Chapel, v.1/2 Mrs. Oliphant
  • Willy Horse acted as waiter, Mrs. Shafto declining to unbend to the extent of waiting on "them varmints."

  • King Philip himself was induced by avarice to unbend from his severity.

  • The Butler (with the air of a high priest who condescends for once to unbend and frolic with lesser mortals).

    Love Among the Chickens P. G. Wodehouse
  • When the day's work was done it was his wont to unbend in frankest good fellowship.

    Monk Julian Corbett
British Dictionary definitions for unbend


verb -bends, -bending, -bent
to release or be released from the restraints of formality and ceremony
(informal) to relax (the mind) or (of the mind) to become relaxed
to become or be made straightened out from an originally bent shape or position
(transitive) (nautical)
  1. to remove (a sail) from a stay, mast, yard, etc
  2. to untie (a rope, etc) or cast (a cable) loose
Derived Forms
unbendable, adjective
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 unbend

"to relax a bow by unstringing it," mid-13c., from un- (2) + bend (v.). Figurative meaning "to become genial, relax" (1748) has a sense opposite to that of unbending "inflexible, obstinate" (1680s), which does not derive from the bowstringing image.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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