[ bench ]
/ bɛntʃ /


verb (used with object)


    on the bench,
    1. serving as a judge in a court of law; presiding.
    2. Sports. (of a player) not participating in play, either for part or all of a game.

Origin of bench

before 1000; Middle English, Old English benc; cognate with Old Frisian benk, Old Saxon, Dutch, Old High German bank, Old Norse bekkr < Germanic *bank-i-; see bank1

Related forms

bench·less, adjectiveun·bench, verb (used with object) Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

British Dictionary definitions for on the bench


/ (bɛntʃ) /


verb (tr)

Word Origin for bench

Old English benc; related to Old Norse bekkr, Old High German bank, Danish, Swedish bänk; see bank ³
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

Idioms and Phrases with on the bench (1 of 2)

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]

Idioms and Phrases with on the bench (2 of 2)


see on the bench; warm the bench.

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