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[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. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for unbend
Historical Examples
  • They felt they must unbend after the severe mental tension of the morning.

    The Kentucky Ranger Edward T. Curnick
  • 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
  • We had first to unreeve all the ropes, and unbend all the sails.

    Peter Trawl W. H. G. Kingston
  • They had never before seen him unbend to anybody as he did to George.

    George at the Fort

    Harry Castlemon
  • Dolly did not join in her mother's laugh nor unbend in the least.

    The Marriage of Elinor Margaret Oliphant
  • She could relax and unbend again; she was safe from his cyclones.

  • Margaret tried to laugh a little, with a lingering hope that he might unbend.

    Fair Margaret Francis Marion Crawford
  • 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
  • How can I unbend him so he will be limber as he was this afternoon.

    The Camp Fire Girls on a Yacht Margaret Love Sanderson
  • His duty was over, the great ship was in the harbor, and he could afford to unbend a little.

    My Life Josiah Flynt
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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