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fended; fending; fends

transitive verb

: defend
: to keep or ward off : repel
often used with off
fend off an invader
dialectal British : to provide for : support

intransitive verb

dialectal British : to make an effort : struggle
: to try to get along without help : shift
had to fend for themselves
: to provide a livelihood


2 of 2


chiefly Scotland
: an effort or attempt especially for oneself

Examples of fend in a Sentence

Verb learned to use humor to fend herself from criticism
Recent Examples on the Web
Most of the animals either died or were transferred to zoos, except the hippos, which were left to fend for themselves. Margaret Osborne, Smithsonian Magazine, 22 Nov. 2023 Though there were available seats on William’s chartered Dassault Falcon private jet, which was leaving in less than an hour, Harry was left to fend for himself. Michelle Tauber, Peoplemag, 15 Nov. 2023 The baby of the group, Branch (Justin Timberlake), is left to fend for himself. Olivia McCormack, Washington Post, 15 Nov. 2023 The new film certainly suggests as much, and leaves one hoping that superheroes might at long last leave us mortals to fend for ourselves. Zachary Barnes, WSJ, 9 Nov. 2023 While no product can completely stop the sagging, this hydrating serum helps fend it off, according to Kseniya Kobets, M.D., director of cosmetic dermatology and assistant professor of dermatology at Montefiore Einstein Advanced Care in Elmsford, N.Y. Anneke Knot, wsj.com, 3 Nov. 2023 Matt Navarra, a social media industry analyst, said the lack of a safety net has left most creators to fend for themselves. Taylor Lorenz, Washington Post, 26 Oct. 2023 Many were tempted to just fend for themselves on the street, to avoid having to start over in an unfamiliar corner of the city. Eric Lach, The New Yorker, 13 Oct. 2023 Smith was referring to James Valley who, as mayor in 2008, turned between 10 and 15 dogs loose from the city’s animal shelter to fend for themselves in nearby St. Francis National Forest. Dale Ellis, Arkansas Online, 7 Sep. 2023
Zach Edey finished with 24 points and 16 rebounds and Braden Smith made two free throws with 3.9 seconds left to help No. 3 Purdue fend off Maryland’s furious second-half charge for a 58-55 victory. Michael Marot, Baltimore Sun, 22 Jan. 2023 At least in Colombia, work to breed more resistant varietals or to study how cacao plants in the wild fend off pathogens has been limited. Lindzi Wessel, Discover Magazine, 27 Sep. 2018 The party is trying to protect a razor-thin majority in the Senate and fend of GOP advances in the House of Representatives. Ovetta Wiggins, Washington Post, 29 Oct. 2022 But in 2022 World Cup Qualifying, the two rivals have helped each other fend off other nations from stealing their automatic bids to the World Cup in Qatar. Drake Hills, USA TODAY, 24 Mar. 2022 Whether Gigi will be accepted back into the world of the whale or fend for herself in a hostile ocean after a year in the tame tanks of Sea World is a matter of conjecture. San Diego Union-Tribune, 13 Mar. 2022 Carr, who had over a dozen supporters speak at the meeting, said board members were lacking urgency in exploring major changes to better support students and fend of a plan by Republican lawmakers to dissolve the district. Rory Linnane, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 10 Mar. 2022 Experts say frictions are fueled by a U.S. fend-for-yourself model around caring for kids. Alia E. Dastagir, USA TODAY, 8 Feb. 2022 Rodriguez can be an incredibly inventive director of action, but the choreography of the scene where Boba, Fennec, and the two Gamorrean fend off the shield-bearing assassins is just okay. Alan Sepinwall, Rolling Stone, 29 Dec. 2021 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'fend.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History



Middle English fenden, short for defenden "to defend"

First Known Use


14th century, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1


1721, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of fend was in the 14th century

Dictionary Entries Near fend

Cite this Entry

“Fend.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/fend. Accessed 7 Dec. 2023.

Kids Definition


: to keep or ward off : repel sense 1
fend off an attack
: to try to get along without help
had to fend for themselves

More from Merriam-Webster on fend

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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