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verb (used with object), rent, rend·ing.
  1. to separate into parts with force or violence: The storm rent the ship to pieces.
  2. to tear apart, split, or divide: racial tension that is rending the nation.
  3. to pull or tear violently (often followed by away, off, up, etc.).
  4. to tear (one's garments or hair) in grief, rage, etc.
  5. to disturb (the air) sharply with loud noise.
  6. to harrow or distress (the heart) with painful feelings.
verb (used without object), rent, rend·ing.
  1. to split or tear something.
  2. to become torn or split.

Origin of rend

before 950; Middle English renden, Old English rendan; cognate with Old Frisian renda
Related formsrend·i·ble, adjective

Synonyms for rend

See more synonyms for on Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for rending

Contemporary Examples of rending

  • “Heche's scenes with Depp have a rending poignancy,” Rolling Stone reviewed.

Historical Examples of rending

British Dictionary definitions for rending


verb rends, rending or rent
  1. to tear with violent force or to be torn in this way; rip
  2. (tr) to tear or pull (one's clothes, etc), esp as a manifestation of rage or grief
  3. (tr) (of a noise or cry) to disturb (the air, silence, etc) with a shrill or piercing tone
  4. (tr) to pain or distress (the heart, conscience, etc)
Derived Formsrendible, adjective

Word Origin for rend

Old English rendan; related to Old Frisian renda
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 rending



Old English rendan, hrendan "to tear, cut down," from West Germanic *randijanan (cf. Old Frisian renda "to cut, break," Middle Low German rende "anything broken," German Rinde "bark, crust"), probably related to rind. Related: Rended; rent; rending.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper