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

  • intransitive v. To have a tendency: paint that tends toward bubbling and peeling over time.
  • intransitive v. To be disposed or inclined: tends toward exaggeration.
  • intransitive v. To move or extend in a certain direction: Our ship tended northward.
  • transitive v. To have the care of; watch over; look after: tend a child.
  • transitive v. To manage the activities and transactions of; run: tend bar; tend a store in the owner's absence.
  • intransitive v. To be an attendant or servant.
  • intransitive v. To apply one's attention; attend: no time to tend to my diary.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • v. To kindle; ignite; set on fire; light; inflame; burn.
  • v. To make a tender of; to offer or tender.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • intransitive v. To wait, as attendants or servants; to serve; to attend; -- with on or upon.
  • intransitive v. To await; to expect.
  • intransitive v. To move in a certain direction; -- usually with to or towards.
  • intransitive v. To be directed, as to any end, object, or purpose; to aim; to have or give a leaning; to exert activity or influence; to serve as a means; to contribute.
  • transitive v. To make a tender of; to offer or tender.
  • transitive v. To accompany as an assistant or protector; to care for the wants of; to look after; to watch; to guard.
  • transitive v. To be attentive to; to note carefully; to attend to.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • To reach out; offer; tender.
  • To move or be directed, literally or figuratively; hold a course.
  • To have a tendency to operate in some particular direction or way; have a bent or inclination to effective action in some particular direction; aim or serve more or less effectively and directly: commonly followed by an infinitive: as, exercise tends to strengthen the muscles.
  • To serve, contribute, or conduce in some degree or way; be influential in some direction, or in promoting some purpose or interest; have a more or less direct bearing or effect (upon something).
  • Synonyms To incline, lean, verge, trend.
  • To conduce.
  • To attend; wait upon as an assistant or protector; guard.
  • To look after; take care of; have the charge, care, or supervision of: as, to tend a machine; to tend a flock; to tend a sick person.
  • To be attentive to; attend to; be mindful of; mind.
  • To wait upon so as to execute; be prepared to perform.
  • Nautical, to watch, as a vessel at anchor, at the turn of tides, and cast her by the helm, and by some sail if necessary, so as to keep turns out of her cable.
  • To attend; wait as an attendant or servant: with on or upon.
  • To be in waiting; be ready for service; attend.
  • To be attentive; listen.
  • See tind.
  • Obsolete past participle of teen.

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

  • v. have care of or look after
  • v. manage or run
  • v. have a tendency or disposition to do or be something; be inclined


Middle English tenden, from Old French tendre, from Latin tendere; see ten- in Indo-European roots.
Middle English tenden, short for attenden, to wait on; see attend.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Middle English tenden, from Old English tendan ("to kindle, set on fire") (usually in compounds ātendan, fortendan, ontendan), from Proto-Germanic *tandijanan (“to kindle”), of unknown origin. Cognate with Danish tænde ("to kindle"), Swedish tända ("to kindle"), Gothic  (tandjan, "to kindle"), Icelandic tendra ("to ignite"), German zünden ("to light, ignite, fire"). Related to tinder. (Wiktionary)
From Middle English *tenden, from Old French tendre ("to stretch, stretch out, hold forth, offer, tender"), from Latin tendere ("to strech, stretch out, extend, spread out"). (Wiktionary)
From Middle English tenden, by apheresis of attenden ("to attend"). More at attend. (Wiktionary)



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