verb (used without object)

to be disposed or inclined in action, operation, or effect to do something: The particles tend to unite.
to be disposed toward an idea, emotion, way of thinking, etc.: He tends to be overly optimistic. Her religious philosophy tends toward pantheism.
to lead or conduce, as to some result or resulting condition: measures tending to improved working conditions; Governments are tending toward democracy.
to be inclined to or have a tendency toward a particular quality, state, or degree: This wine tends toward the sweet side.
(of a journey, course, road, etc.) to lead or be directed in a particular direction (usually followed by to, toward, etc.): a path tending toward the beach.

Origin of tend

1300–50; Middle English tenden < Middle French tendre < Latin tendere to stretch, extend, proceed



verb (used with object)

to attend to by work or services, care, etc.: to tend a fire.
to look after; watch over and care for; minister to or wait on with service: to tend the sick.
Nautical. to handle or attend to (a rope).

verb (used without object)

to attend by action, care, etc. (usually followed by to).

Verb Phrases

tend on/upon, Archaic. to attend or wait upon; minister to; serve: She tended on the sick and dying with infinite compassion.

Origin of tend

1300–50; Middle English tenden, aphetic variant of attend
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for tending

Contemporary Examples of tending

Historical Examples of tending

  • Thus manifestly a negligible factor, it is also one tending to extinction.

    'Tis Sixty Years Since

    Charles Francis Adams

  • One of these fellows, as it chanced, was their own guide, who had come in from tending the mules.

    Fair Margaret

    H. Rider Haggard

  • The proceedings began with some animated discussion, all tending one way.

    Tiverton Tales

    Alice Brown

  • This she had abundantly shown, but now, in her tending of the sick gentleman.

  • And outside he went, like a king, with all Sierra Vista about him and tending on him.

    White Fang

    Jack London

British Dictionary definitions for tending



verb (when intr, usually foll by to or towards)

(when tr, takes an infinitive) to have a general disposition (to do something); be inclinedchildren tend to prefer sweets to meat
(intr) to have or be an influence (towards a specific result); be conducivethe party atmosphere tends to hilarity
(intr) to go or move (in a particular direction)to tend to the south

Word Origin for tend

C14: from Old French tendre, from Latin tendere to stretch




(tr) to care forto tend wounded soldiers
(when intr, often foll by to) to attend (to)to tend to someone's needs
(tr) to handle or controlto tend a fire
(intr often foll by to) informal, mainly US and Canadian to pay attention

Word Origin for tend

C14: variant of attend
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 tending



"to incline, to move in a certain direction," mid-14c., from Old French tendre "stretch, hold forth, offer" (11c.), from Latin tendere "to aim, stretch, extend" (see tenet).



"attend to," early 14c., a shortening of Middle English atenden (see attend).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper