from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • transitive v. To ward off. Often used with off: fend off an attack.
  • transitive v. Archaic To defend.
  • intransitive v. To make an effort to resist: fend against the cold.
  • intransitive v. To attempt to manage without assistance: had to fend for ourselves until we were rescued.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. An enemy; fiend; the Devil.
  • v. To take care of oneself, to take responsibility for oneself.
  • v. To defend, to take care of (typically construed with for); to block or push away (typically construed with off).

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. A fiend.
  • intransitive v. To act on the defensive, or in opposition; to resist; to parry; to shift off.
  • transitive v. To keep off; to prevent from entering or hitting; to ward off; to shut out; -- often with off.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • To defend; protect; guard.
  • To keep off; prevent from entering or impinging; ward off; forbid: usually followed by off: as, to fend off blows. Compare fen.
  • To support; maintain.
  • To act in opposition; offer resistance.
  • To parry; fence.
  • To make provision; give care.
  • n. The shift which one makes for one's self, whether for sustenance or in any other respect; self-defense or self-support.
  • n. A Middle English form of fiend.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • v. try to manage without help
  • v. withstand the force of something


from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

Middle English fenden, short for defenden, to defend; see defend.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Middle English, from Old English fēond ("adversary, foe, enemy, fiend, devil, Satan"). More at fiend.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Middle English fenden ("defend, fight, prevent"), shortening of defenden ("defend")


  • And we were quite disturbed at the end of it, when we found that Rosario had actually put a false name on this note that he shoved in the baby ` s diaper and just left him the way that he did in this parking lot, and as you had mentioned, defenseless, to kind of fend for himself.

    CNN Transcript Mar 24, 2008

  • TIMONEY: Well, that's a-- my understanding is, and I don't know too much about that case, but my understanding was this young 15-year - old may have been bullied in school and brought it with him to school just to kind of fend off bullies.

    CNN Transcript Jan 17, 2006

  • "This is not an intended strike (but) Weyman has adopted a technique with his fend which is highly reckless," Kite argued.

    The Age News Headlines

  • "Let's face it," Warren said, "This is sort of how we went about the rescue -- we rescued at the top and we left the bottom to kind of fend for itself -- and that's showing up in the unemployment numbers."

    Jack & Jill Politics

  • Instead, religions have had to fend for themselves in attracting, and retaining, members.

    American Grace

  • There is another group who think that the best solution is to do away with all these pensions and let those people fend for themselves.

    The Good Fight

  • America needs more senators like Byrd to fend off the Greedy Old Party (GOP) of NEVER.

    Byrd likely to remain hospitalized at least another week

  • "It's nice," says Mr. Fickster, standing beside the tree, now wrapped in wire to fend off fresh baboon attacks.

    Orchard Venture Taps Baboons' Secret

  • After Wall Street received a trillion-dollar rescue from Treasury and the Fed, they were left alone to fend for themselves.

    Richard (RJ) Eskow: By Not Challenging the Tea Party, the White House Makes It Stronger

  • She had suffered extensive damage to her trachea and jaw, broken ribs, and internal injuries and had lost two fingers from her right hand trying to fend off the wolf.

    How to Flirt with A Naked Werewolf


Log in or sign up to get involved in the conversation. It's quick and easy.

  • Forfend - interesting word, but I would not call it common. The four examples in Wordnik have it part of the "Heaven Forfend" expression or a variant thereof.

    May 6, 2010

  • Latin fendere to strike. Sometimes offense is the best defense. See also definitions and uses of forfend.

    May 6, 2010

  • I was thinking about this word today - to me it is pretty interesting because in its atomic form it only exists in common usage as part of two idiomatic expressions ("Fend for yourself", "Fend off an attack"). Can anyone think of any more? It also lives as the core of the words "offend" and "defend", and the only other one I can think of is "fender". It sounds like it has a relationship with "fence".

    May 6, 2010

  • de-fend, of-fend

    March 30, 2009