See more synonyms for bend on
verb (used with object), bent or (Archaic) bend·ed; bend·ing.
  1. to force (an object, especially a long or thin one) from a straight form into a curved or angular one, or from a curved or angular form into some different form: to bend an iron rod into a hoop.
  2. to direct or turn in a particular direction: to bend one's energies to the task.
  3. to cause to submit or yield: to bend someone to one's will.
  4. to modify or relax (restrictions, regulations, etc.) temporarily or in certain circumstances: to bend the rules.
  5. to incline mentally (usually followed by to or toward): bending his thoughts back toward his childhood.
  6. to pull back the string of (a bow or the like) in preparation for shooting.
  7. Nautical. to fasten.
  8. Archaic. to strain or brace tensely (often followed by up).
verb (used without object), bent or (Archaic) bend·ed; bend·ing.
  1. to become curved, crooked, or bent: a bow that bends easily.
  2. to assume a bent posture; stoop (often followed by over): to bend as one walks; to bend over and pick up something.
  3. to turn or incline in a particular direction; be directed: The road bent toward the south.
  4. to yield or submit; give in.
  5. to bow in submission or reverence: bending to one's monarch.
  6. to direct one's energies: We bent to our work as the bell sounded.
  1. the act of bending.
  2. something that bends; curve; crook: a bend in the road; a bend in the curtain rod.
  3. Nautical. any of various loops or knots for joining the ends of two ropes or the like, or for joining the end of a rope or the like to some other object.
  4. bends, Nautical.
    1. thick planking immediately below the waterways of a wooden vessel.
    2. the wales of a vessel.
  5. the bends, aeroembolism(def 2).
  1. around/round the bend, Slang. insane; crazy: These interruptions will send me round the bend!
  2. bend/lean/fall over backward, to exert oneself to the utmost; make a serious effort: They bent over backward to make sure their guests were comfortable.

Origin of bend

before 1000; Middle English benden (v.) Old English bendan to bind, bend (a bow); cognate with Middle High German benden, Old Norse benda; akin to Old Norse band band. See band3
Related formsbend·a·ble, adjectivenon·bend·ing, adjectivere·bend·a·ble, adjective

Synonyms for bend

See more synonyms for on

Synonym study

10. Bend, bow, stoop imply taking a bent posture. Bend and bow are used of the head and upper body; stoop is used of the body only.


  1. Heraldry.
    1. a diagonal band extending from the dexter chief of an escutcheon to the sinister base.Compare bend sinister.
    2. in bend,(of a charge) set diagonally or in a diagonal row.
  2. Tanning. half of a trimmed butt or hide.

Origin of bend

before 1000; Middle English: coalescence of Old English bend band (see band3) and Middle French bende band2


  1. a city in central Oregon. Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for bend

Contemporary Examples of bend

Historical Examples of bend

  • Everywhere we see the vine, and with every bend we seem nearer the South.

    The Roof of France

    Matilda Betham-Edwards

  • A compact little group of men rounded the bend and approached.

    The Leopard Woman

    Stewart Edward White

  • Here she anchored again, just round a bend of the river, and lay there for the night.

    Fair Margaret

    H. Rider Haggard

  • He rounded a bend of the road, and came full upon a remarkable vision.

    Meadow Grass

    Alice Brown

  • It was fair, and so long that when standing up she could tread on it and bend her head forward.

    My Double Life

    Sarah Bernhardt

British Dictionary definitions for bend


verb bends, bending or bent
  1. to form or cause to form a curve, as by pushing or pulling
  2. to turn or cause to turn from a particular directionthe road bends left past the church
  3. (intr; often foll by down , etc) to incline the body; stoop; bow
  4. to submit or cause to submitto bend before superior force
  5. (tr) to turn or direct (one's eyes, steps, attention, etc)
  6. (tr) to concentrate (the mind); apply oneself closely
  7. (tr) nautical to attach or fasten, as a sail to a boom or a line to a cleat
  8. bend over backwards informal to make a special effort, esp in order to pleasehe bends over backwards to accommodate his customers
  9. bend someone's ear informal to speak at length to an unwilling listener, esp to voice one's troubles
  10. bend the rules informal to ignore rules or change them to suit one's own convenience
  1. a curved part, as in a road or river
  2. nautical a knot or eye in a line for joining it to another or to an object
  3. the act or state of bending
  4. round the bend British slang mad; crazy; eccentric
See also bends
Derived Formsbendable, adjective

Word Origin for bend

Old English bendan; related to Old Norse benda, Middle High German benden; see bind, band ³


  1. heraldry an ordinary consisting of a diagonal line traversing a shield

Word Origin for bend

Old English bend band ²; see bend 1
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 bend

Old English bendan "to bend a bow; confine with a string, fetter," causative of bindan "to bind," from Proto-Germanic base *band- "string, band" (cf. Old Norse benda "to join, strain, strive, bend"), from PIE root *bhendh- "to bind" (cf. Gothic bindan, Old High German bintan, Sanskrit badhnati "binds," Lithuanian bendras "partner;" Old Persian bandaka- "subject").

Modern sense (early 14c.) is via notion of bending a bow to string it. Cognate with band, bind, and bond. Related: Bended; bent; bending.


"a bending or curving," 1590s; "thing of bent shape," c.1600, from bend (v.). Earlier "act of drawing a bow" (mid-15c.). The bends "decompression pain" first attested 1894.


"broad diagonal band in a coat-of-arms, etc.," c.1400, from earlier sense of "thin, flat strap for wrapping round," from Old English bend "fetter, shackle, chain," from PIE *bhendh- (see bend (v.)).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

bend in Medicine


  1. To incline the body; stoop.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.

Idioms and Phrases with bend


In addition to the idioms beginning with bend

  • bend one's elbow
  • bend over backwards
  • bend someone's ear

also see:

  • around the bend
  • crook (bend) one's elbow
  • on bended knee

Also see underbent.

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