Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • intransitive verb To ward off. Often used with off:
  • intransitive verb Archaic To defend.
  • intransitive verb To make an effort to resist.
  • intransitive verb To attempt to manage without assistance.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • noun A Middle English form of fiend.
  • 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.
  • noun The shift which one makes for one's self, whether for sustenance or in any other respect; self-defense or self-support.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • transitive verb To keep off; to prevent from entering or hitting; to ward off; to shut out; -- often with off.
  • transitive verb (Naut.) to prevent its running against anything with too much violence.
  • intransitive verb To act on the defensive, or in opposition; to resist; to parry; to shift off.
  • noun obsolete A fiend.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

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

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

  • verb try to manage without help
  • verb withstand the force of something

Etymologies

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")

Examples

  • 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

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

    Latest News - Yahoo!7 News

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

    NEWS.com.au | Top Stories

  • "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."

    WHAT REALLY HAPPENED

  • "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

  • 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

Comments

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  • de-fend, of-fend

    March 30, 2009

  • 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

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

    May 6, 2010

  • 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