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bent ˈbent How to pronounce bend (audio) ; bending

transitive verb

: to constrain or strain to tension by curving
bend a bow
: to turn or force from straight or even to curved or angular
bend a pipe
: to force from a proper shape
Her bicycle's back wheel got bent in the crash.
: to force back to an original straight or even condition
bend the wire flat
: fasten
bend a sail to its yard
: to cause to turn from a straight course : deflect
bend a ray of light with a mirror
: to guide or turn toward : direct
bends his rapid steps in the direction of the headquarters …O. Henry
: incline, dispose
bending their minds to the Buddhist concept of eternityChristopher Rand
: to adapt to one's purpose : distort
bend the rules
: to direct strenuously or with interest : apply
bent himself to the task
: to make submissive : subdue
refusing to be bent

intransitive verb

: to curve out of a straight line or position
The road bends to the left.
tree limbs bending under the weight of the snow
bent down to pick up a piece of paper
bending double with pain
specifically : to incline the body in token of submission
bend to the queen
: to apply oneself vigorously
bending to their work
: incline, tend
She bends to the Left politically.
: compromise sense 2
refusing to bend under pressure to change
bending to the will of wealthy supporters
bendable adjective


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noun (1)

plural bends
: the act or process of bending
doing knee bends
: the state of being bent
the graceful bends of Gothic windows
: something that is bent: such as
: a curved part of a path (as of a stream or road)
Their house is down the road, just past the bend.
nautical : wale entry 1 sense 2
usually used in plural

see also the bends


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noun (2)

heraldry : a diagonal band that runs from the dexter chief (see chief entry 3 sense 1) to the sinister base (see base entry 1 sense 8) on a heraldic shield compare bend sinister
[Middle English, band, from Old English bend fetter — more at band] : a knot by which one rope is fastened to another or to some object
bend one's ear
: to talk to someone at length
bend over backward or bend over backwards
: to make extreme efforts
had to bend over backward to get these tickets
around the bend or British round the bend
: mentally unsound
appears to have gone around the bend

Examples of bend in a Sentence

Verb bend a wire into a circle bend the cable around a wheel He bent the bow and shot an arrow from it. His glasses got bent when he dropped them. The trees were bending in the wind. The branch will bend before it breaks. She bent down to pick up a piece of paper and then she straightened up again. He bent back to look up at the ceiling. bend to the left and then bend to the right See More
Recent Examples on the Web
An elasticized waist gives tummies plenty of breathing room to bend down and make snowballs or snow angels. Katrina Cossey, Parents, 12 Feb. 2024 But only one thing will actually bend that curve and halt the warming: zeroing out carbon emissions. Zoë Schlanger, The Atlantic, 12 Feb. 2024 The hour was filled with tactical, not emotional, advice—bend your knees, eyes stay down, finish high, catch the racket. Zibby Owens, Vogue, 12 Feb. 2024 And if that wasn’t bad enough, the subsequent falsehoods by the former president and his supporters about what actually happened on this infamous day have now bent reality for many Republican voters, the majority of whom tell polls the 2020 election was crooked. Keith Kloor, Scientific American, 9 Feb. 2024 Movies like Now, Voyager and Clash by Night were crucial to the development of stars as different as Barbara Stanwyck, Katharine Hepburn, and Bette Davis, and required great male actors of the studio system like Cary Grant and Clark Gable to bend to the needs of their counterparts. Angelica Jade Bastién, Vulture, 7 Feb. 2024 The other two look as if their owners are in pain, with wrists bent back, fingers clenched. Grace Cote, Charlotte Observer, 31 Jan. 2024 The girl courageously bends down, grabs hold of the snake's tail, and, to save her guinea pig, begins whirling the reptile in a circle in an attempt to get the snake to drop her pet. Kimberlee Speakman, Peoplemag, 31 Jan. 2024 Out in the open waters close to the Gulf of Mexico, Spanish mackerel, ladyfish and jack crevalles were bending his client’s fishing rods. Alan Sherman, Miami Herald, 30 Jan. 2024
Cover the first two-thirds of the shank with thread from the hook eye toward the bend. Joe Cermele, Outdoor Life, 17 Jan. 2024 This mini bob that grazes the chin has the best of both worlds. 09 of 45 Blunt Textured Cut Instantly make your hair look thicker by leaving the ends blunt and putting textured bend into the body. Kaitlyn Yarborough, Southern Living, 9 Jan. 2024 Start in the tabletop position again, hands under shoulders, knees under hips, and a slight bend in the elbows. Dominique Fluker, Essence, 29 Jan. 2024 Relatively sparse in population, the country is full of sweeping valleys, smooth tarmac, and undulating bends. Charlie Thomas, Robb Report, 12 Jan. 2024 Her hair was styled by her go-to hairstylist Marissa Marino in soft, barely-there bends and waves befitting the vibes of Rare Beauty's new Find Comfort body care collection, which is all about relaxation and calm, chill moments. Kara Nesvig, Allure, 11 Jan. 2024 Such headlights sense and respond to different conditions, like a bend in the road or an oncoming car. Ben Blatt, New York Times, 14 Dec. 2023 The Lodge at 58 North perches on a bend in the cold, surging Naknek River in King Salmon, Alaska, where every summer millions of Pacific salmon pass through en route to spawn in freshwater. Maggie Hennessy, Bon Appétit, 6 Dec. 2023 The hook eye gets poked through the top of the tube’s head and the hook bend gets hidden in the skirt. Joe Cermele, Field & Stream, 4 Jan. 2024 See More

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

Word History


Verb and Noun (1)

Middle English, from Old English bendan; akin to Old English bend fetter — more at band

Noun (2)

Middle English, from Middle French bende, of Germanic origin; akin to Old High German binta, bant band — more at band

First Known Use


before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1

Noun (1)

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Noun (2)

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of bend was before the 12th century

Dictionary Entries Near bend

Cite this Entry

“Bend.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 28 Feb. 2024.

Kids Definition


1 of 2 verb
bent ˈbent How to pronounce bend (audio) ; bending
: to pull tight
bend a bow
: to curve or cause a change of shape
bend a wire into a circle
: to turn in a certain direction
bent their steps toward town
: to apply or apply oneself closely
she bent herself to the task
: to curve out of line
the road bends to the left
: to curve downward : stoop
bend over and pick it up


2 of 2 noun
: the act or process of bending : the state of being bent
: something (as a curved part of a stream) that is bent
plural : a severe disorder marked by pain (as in joints), by difficulty in breathing, and often by collapsing and caused by release of gas bubbles (as of nitrogen) in the tissues upon too rapid a change from an environment of high air pressure to one of lower air pressure

called also caisson disease, decompression sickness

Geographical Definition


geographical name

city on the Deschutes River in central Oregon population 76,639

More from Merriam-Webster on bend

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