[ fend ]
/ fɛnd /
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verb (used with object)
to ward off (often followed by off): to fend off blows.
to defend.
verb (used without object)
to resist or make defense: to fend against poverty.
to parry; fence.
to shift; provide: to fend for oneself.


5 manage, make out, get along.
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Origin of fend

1250–1300; Middle English fenden, aphetic variant of defenden to defend


un·fend·ed, adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023


What is a basic definition of fend?

Fend is a verb that means to force back. Fend can also mean to provide for or support. Fend has a few other senses as a verb.

Fend means to force back or repel someone or something. In this sense, fend is almost always followed by the word off. This sense of fend can be used literally or figuratively. Usually, you would try to fend off something unpleasant or harmful.

  • Real-life examples: Cows often have to fend off swarms of flies and gnats that try to bite them. A celebrity’s bodyguard may need to fend off excited fans that are trying to get too close. A business owner will fend off competition.
  • Used in a sentence: An alpha wolf must fend off any younger wolves that try to attack it or its pups. 

Fend can also mean to support or provide for, especially for yourself. For example, a person without friends or family must fend for themselves and try to survive without any help.

  • Real-life examples: People trapped on a deserted island must fend for themselves. Siblings may have to fend for each other when their parents can’t even fend for themselves.
  • Used in a sentence: She never knew her parents and had to fend for herself since she was a child. 

Where does fend come from?

The first records of fend come from around 1250. It comes from the Middle English fenden, a variation of the verb defenden, meaning “to defend.”

Fend shares an origin with the word defend and can be used as a synonym. However, this usage is now very rare.

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What are some other forms related to fend?

  • unfended (adjective)

What are some synonyms for fend?

What are some words that share a root or word element with fend?

What are some words that often get used in discussing fend?

How is fend used in real life?

Fend most often means to repel something or to provide for, most often providing for yourself.

Try using fend!

Is fend used correctly in the following sentence?

The hungry puppy had to fend off his brothers and sisters as they tried to steal his food.

How to use fend in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for fend

/ (fɛnd) /

(intr foll by for) to give support (to someone, esp oneself); provide (for)
(tr usually foll by off) to ward off or turn aside (blows, questions, attackers, etc)
(tr) archaic to defend or resist
(intr) Scot and Northern English dialect to struggle; strive
Scot and Northern English dialect a shift or effort

Word Origin for fend

C13 fenden, shortened from defenden to defend
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