verb (used with object)
to ward off (often followed by off ): to fend off blows.
to defend.
verb (used without object)
to resist or make defense: to fend against poverty.
to parry; fence.
to shift; provide: to fend for oneself.

1250–1300; Middle English fenden, aphetic variant of defenden to defend

unfended, adjective

5. manage, make out, get along.
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Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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World English Dictionary
fend (fɛnd)
vb (foll by for) (usually foll by off)
1.  to give support (to someone, esp oneself); provide (for)
2.  to ward off or turn aside (blows, questions, attackers, etc)
3.  archaic (tr) to defend or resist
4.  dialect (Scot), (Northern English) (intr) to struggle; strive
5.  dialect (Scot), (Northern English) a shift or effort
[C13 fenden, shortened from defenden to defend]

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009
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Word Origin & History

c.1300, shortening of defend. To fend for oneself (1620s) is to see to one's own defense. Related: Fended; fending.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Example sentences
Flu shots may do more for the elderly than fend off the flu, new research shows.
In this deep recession only the government can prop up demand and fend off
  economic disaster.
The best way to fend off future hearing loss is to protect your ears with
  earplugs or noise-reducing earmuffs.
Easy-care plants and materials create a low-maintenance garden that can fend
  for itself for weeks at a stretch.
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