fence

[ fens ]
/ fɛns /

noun

verb (used with object), fenced, fenc·ing.

verb (used without object), fenced, fenc·ing.


Nearby words

  1. femtometer,
  2. femur,
  3. fen,
  4. fen-phen,
  5. fenagle,
  6. fence in,
  7. fence lizard,
  8. fence with,
  9. fence-mending,
  10. fence-off

Idioms

    mend one's fences, to strengthen or reestablish one's position by conciliation or negotiation: One could tell by his superficially deferential manner that he was trying to mend his fences.
    on the fence, uncommitted; neutral; undecided: The party leaders are still on the fence.

Origin of fence

1300–50; Middle English fens, aphetic for defens defense

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


British Dictionary definitions for fence in

fence

/ (fɛns) /

noun

verb

Derived Formsfenceless, adjectivefencelike, adjective

Word Origin for fence

C14 fens, shortened from defens defence

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 fence in
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Idioms and Phrases with fence in

fence in

Also, hem in. Restrict or confine someone, as in He wanted to take on more assignments but was fenced in by his contract, or Their father was old-fashioned and the children were hemmed in by his rules. Both expressions transfer a literal form of enclosure to a figurative one. The first gained currency from a popular song in the style of a cowboy folk song by Cole Porter, “Don't Fence Me In” (1944), in which the cowboy celebrates open land and starry skies. The variant is much older, dating from the late 1500s.

fence

In addition to the idioms beginning with fence

  • fence in
  • fence with

also see:

  • mend one's fences
  • on the fence
  • straddle the fence
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.