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See more synonyms for unbend on Thesaurus.com
verb (used with object), un·bent or (Archaic) un·bend·ed, un·bend·ing.
  1. to straighten from a bent form or position.
  2. to release from the strain of formality, intense effort, etc.; relax: to unbend one's mind.
  3. to release from tension, as a bow.
  4. Nautical.
    1. to loose or untie, as a sail or rope.
    2. to unfasten from spars or stays, as sails.
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verb (used without object), un·bent or (Archaic) un·bend·ed, un·bend·ing.
  1. to relax the strictness of formality or ceremony; act in an easy, genial manner: Imagine him unbending!
  2. to become unbent; straighten.
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Origin of unbend

Middle English word dating back to 1200–50; see origin at un-2, bend1
Related formsun·bend·a·ble, adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words for unbend

unwind, recline, soften, calm, breathe, relax, lean, deign, rectify, uncoil, loosen, defrost, melt, dissolve, spread, unravel, unfurl, repose, rest, tranquilize

Examples from the Web for unbend

Historical Examples of unbend

  • They felt they must unbend after the severe mental tension of the morning.

    The Kentucky Ranger

    Edward T. Curnick

  • And be it remembered that our dear Doctor could unbend—that is, in fitting time and place.

  • We had first to unreeve all the ropes, and unbend all the sails.

    Peter Trawl

    W. H. G. Kingston

  • They had never before seen him unbend to anybody as he did to George.

    George at the Fort

    Harry Castlemon

  • Dolly did not join in her mother's laugh nor unbend in the least.

    The Marriage of Elinor

    Margaret Oliphant

British Dictionary definitions for unbend


verb -bends, -bending or -bent
  1. to release or be released from the restraints of formality and ceremony
  2. informal to relax (the mind) or (of the mind) to become relaxed
  3. to become or be made straightened out from an originally bent shape or position
  4. (tr) nautical
    1. to remove (a sail) from a stay, mast, yard, etc
    2. to untie (a rope, etc) or cast (a cable) loose
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Derived Formsunbendable, adjective
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 unbend


"to relax a bow by unstringing it," mid-13c., from un- (2) + bend (v.). Figurative meaning "to become genial, relax" (1748) has a sense opposite to that of unbending "inflexible, obstinate" (1680s), which does not derive from the bowstringing image.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper