increased, as in size, volume, etc.; expanded; dilated: the distended nostrils of the terrified horse.
swollen, by or as by internal pressure, out of normal size or shape; protuberant: distended wineskins; the distended arteries of his neck.

Origin of distended

First recorded in 1590–1600; distend + -ed2
Related formsdis·tend·ed·ly, adverbdis·tend·ed·ness, noun



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

1375–1425; late Middle English (< Anglo-French destendre) < Latin distendere, equivalent to dis- dis-1 + tendere to stretch
Related formsdis·tend·er, nouno·ver·dis·tend, verbun·dis·tend, verb (used with object)

Synonyms for distend

1. See expand. 1, 2. enlarge, bloat.

Antonyms for distend

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Related Words for distended

bulging, bloated, inflated, expanded, stretched, puffy, tumescent, tumid, turgid

Examples from the Web for distended

Historical Examples of distended

  • I spin the finest wool of our flocks, and drain the distended udders of our cows.


    William Godwin

  • The horse, with lathering neck and distended nostrils, paused before them.

    The Plunderer

    Roy Norton

  • Mills emitted an enormous cloud of smoke out of his distended cheeks.

    The Arrow of Gold

    Joseph Conrad

  • They shuddered, whinnied, glared with distended, bloodshot eyes.

    The Long Roll

    Mary Johnston

  • To begin with he distended himself so that he could not sink at all.

British Dictionary definitions for distended



to expand or be expanded by or as if by pressure from within; swell; inflate
(tr) to stretch out or extend
(tr) to magnify in importance; exaggerate
Derived Formsdistender, noundistensible, adjectivedistensibility, noundistension or distention, noun

Word Origin for distend

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

Word Origin and History for distended



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

distended in Medicine




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.