verb (used with object), bent or (Archaic) bend·ed; bend·ing.
- to force (an object, especially a long or thin one) from a straight form into a curved or angular one, or from a curved or angular form into some different form: to bend an iron rod into a hoop.
- to direct or turn in a particular direction: to bend one’s energies to the task.
- to cause to submit or yield: to bend someone to one’s will.
- to modify or relax (restrictions, regulations, etc.) temporarily or in certain circumstances: to bend the rules.
- to incline mentally (usually followed by to or toward): bending his thoughts back toward his childhood.
- to pull back the string of (a bow or the like) in preparation for shooting.
- Nautical. to fasten.
- Archaic. to strain or brace tensely (often followed by up).
verb (used without object), bent or (Archaic) bend·ed; bend·ing.
- to become curved, crooked, or bent: a bow that bends easily.
- to assume a bent posture; stoop (often followed by over): to bend as one walks; to bend over and pick up something.
- to turn or incline in a particular direction; be directed: The road bent toward the south.
- to yield or submit; give in.
- to bow in submission or reverence: bending to one’s monarch.
- to direct one’s energies: We bent to our work as the bell sounded.
- the act of bending.
- something that bends; curve; crook: a bend in the road; a bend in the curtain rod.
- Nautical. any of various loops or knots for joining the ends of two ropes or the like, or for joining the end of a rope or the like to some other object.
- bends, Nautical.
- thick planking immediately below the waterways of a wooden vessel.
- the wales of a vessel.
- the bends, aeroembolism(def 2).
- around/round the bend, Slang. insane; crazy: These interruptions will send me round the bend!
- bend/lean/fall over backward, to exert oneself to the utmost; make a serious effort: They bent over backward to make sure their guests were comfortable.
verb bends, bending or bent
- to form or cause to form a curve, as by pushing or pulling
- to turn or cause to turn from a particular directionthe road bends left past the church
- (intr; often foll by down , etc) to incline the body; stoop; bow
- to submit or cause to submitto bend before superior force
- (tr) to turn or direct (one’s eyes, steps, attention, etc)
- (tr) to concentrate (the mind); apply oneself closely
- (tr) nautical to attach or fasten, as a sail to a boom or a line to a cleat
- bend over backwards informal to make a special effort, esp in order to pleasehe bends over backwards to accommodate his customers
- bend someone’s ear informal to speak at length to an unwilling listener, esp to voice one’s troubles
- bend the rules informal to ignore rules or change them to suit one’s own convenience
- a curved part, as in a road or river
- nautical a knot or eye in a line for joining it to another or to an object
- the act or state of bending
- round the bend British slang mad; crazy; eccentric
- heraldry an ordinary consisting of a diagonal line traversing a shield
Old English bendan “to bend a bow; confine with a string, fetter,” causative of bindan “to bind,” from Proto-Germanic base *band- “string, band” (cf. Old Norse benda “to join, strain, strive, bend”), from PIE root *bhendh- “to bind” (cf. Gothic bindan, Old High German bintan, Sanskrit badhnati “binds,” Lithuanian bendras “partner;” Old Persian bandaka- “subject”).
Modern sense (early 14c.) is via notion of bending a bow to string it. Cognate with band, bind, and bond. Related: Bended; bent; bending.
“a bending or curving,” 1590s; “thing of bent shape,” c.1600, from bend (v.). Earlier “act of drawing a bow” (mid-15c.). The bends “decompression pain” first attested 1894.
“broad diagonal band in a coat-of-arms, etc.,” c.1400, from earlier sense of “thin, flat strap for wrapping round,” from Old English bend “fetter, shackle, chain,” from PIE *bhendh- (see bend (v.)).
- To incline the body; stoop.
In addition to the idioms beginning with bend
- bend one’s elbow
- bend over backwards
- bend someone’s ear
- around the bend
- crook (bend) one’s elbow
- on bended knee
Also see underbent.