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[suh b-tend, suhb-] /səbˈtɛnd, sʌb-/
verb (used with object)
Geometry. to extend under or be opposite to:
a chord subtending an arc.
Botany. (of a leaf, bract, etc.) to occur beneath or close to.
to form or mark the outline or boundary of.
Origin of subtend
1560-70; < Latin subtendere to stretch beneath, equivalent to sub- sub- + tendere to stretch; see tend1 Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for subtend
  • The inflorescence is enclosed by a spathe of one or two scale leaves which subtend the first two flowers.
  • The two monsters, nevertheless being exactly the same size in the drawing, subtend the same visual angle at the eye.
  • One or more series of bracts that subtend a flower or inflorescence.
  • The flowers consist of four bracts which subtend the small head of yellow flowers.
  • Rosettes of oblong leaves with pointed tips subtend tufted evening-primrose's flower stalks.
British Dictionary definitions for subtend


verb (transitive)
(geometry) to be opposite to and delimit (an angle or side)
(of a bract, stem, etc) to have (a bud or similar part) growing in its axil
to mark off
to underlie; be inherent in
Word Origin
C16: from Latin subtendere to extend beneath, from sub- + tendere to stretch out
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for subtend

1560s, from Latin subtendere, from sub "under" (see sub-) + tendere "to stretch" (see tenet). Related: Subtended; subtending.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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