sub·​tend səb-ˈtend How to pronounce subtend (audio)
subtended; subtending; subtends

transitive verb

: to be opposite to and extend from one side to the other of
a hypotenuse subtends a right angle
: to fix the angular extent of with respect to a fixed point or object taken as the vertex
a central angle subtended by an arc
the angle subtended at the eye by an object of given width and a fixed distance away
: to determine the measure of by marking off the endpoints of
a chord subtends an arc
: to underlie so as to include
: to occupy an adjacent and usually lower position to and often so as to embrace or enclose
a bract that subtends a flower

Examples of subtend in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Before 1967, political borders, however provisional, subtended cultural ones: sovereignty derived from international recognition and the consent of the governed. Bernard Avishai, The New Yorker, 5 June 2017

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

Word History


Latin subtendere to stretch beneath, from sub- + tendere to stretch — more at thin

First Known Use

circa 1560, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

Time Traveler
The first known use of subtend was circa 1560

Dictionary Entries Near subtend

Cite this Entry

“Subtend.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 26 May. 2024.

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