- the seat on which the players of a team sit during a game while not playing.
- thequality and number of the players of a team who are usually used as substitutes: A weak bench hurt their chances for the championship.
verb (used with object)
- serving as a judge in a court of law; presiding.
- Sports.(of a player) not participating in play, either for part or all of a game.
Origin of bench
Related Words for on the benchidle, inactive, jobless, underemployed, down, loafing, free, disengaged, fired, resting, unoccupied, unused, leisured, unapplied, unengaged
- a judge or magistrate sitting in court in a judicial capacity
- judges or magistrates collectively
Word Origin for bench
Old English benc "long seat," from Proto-Germanic *bankiz "bank of earth," perhaps here "man-made earthwork," later "bench, table" (cf. Old Frisian bank "bench," Old Norse bekkr, Danish bænk, Middle Dutch banc, Old High German banch), from PIE root *bheg- "to break." Used for "office of a judge" since late 13c. Sporting sense "reserve of players" (in baseball, North American football, etc.) is by 1909, from literal sense of place where players sit when not in action (by 1889).
"to take out of the game," 1902, from bench (n.) in the sporting sense. Related: Benched; benching. Old English also had a verb form, but it meant "to make benches."
on the bench
Presiding as judge in a law court, as in Lawyers are very careful when Judge Brown is on the bench. This usage alludes to the seat occupied by a judge. [Late 1200s]
Waiting for a chance to participate; also, removed from participation. For example, Mary complained that all her colleagues were going to the sales conference while she was left on the bench. This usage comes from baseball and other sports, where players not deemed ready or competent to play sit on a bench watching the game. [Early 1900s]
see on the bench; warm the bench.