See more synonyms for unbending on Thesaurus.com

Origin of unbending

1545–55; un-1 + bending
Related formsun·bend·ing·ly, adverbun·bend·ing·ness, noun


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.
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.

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

Examples from the Web for unbending

Contemporary Examples of unbending

Historical Examples of unbending

  • Her struggles met only the unbending, pitiless resistance of steel.

    The Spenders

    Harry Leon Wilson

  • Old Dibs smiled a sickly smile, like he was unbending to a pair of kids.

  • The former should be strict, authoritative, unbending; the latter should be mild and gentle.

    The Teacher

    Jacob Abbott

  • He had been brought up in the most unbending school of Toryism.

  • The trees seemed rigid and unbending in the wind that caressed his face.


    William Morrison

British Dictionary definitions for unbending


  1. rigid or inflexible
  2. characterized by sternness or severityan unbending rule
Derived Formsunbendingly, adverbunbendingness, noun


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
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 unbending



"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.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper