on the bench


a long seat for several persons: a bench in the park.
a seat occupied by an official, especially a judge.
such a seat as a symbol of the office and dignity of an individual judge or the judiciary.
the office or dignity of various other officials, or the officials themselves.
the seat on which the players of a team sit during a game while not playing.
thequality and number of the players of a team who are usually used as substitutes: A weak bench hurt their chances for the championship.
Informal. bench press.
Also called workbench. the strong worktable of a carpenter or other mechanic.
a platform on which animals are placed for exhibition, especially at a dog show.
a contest or exhibition of dogs; dog show.
Physical Geography. a shelflike area of rock with steep slopes above and below.
Mining. a step or working elevation in a mine.
berm ( def 2 ).
verb (used with object)
to furnish with benches.
to seat on a bench or on the bench: an election that benched him in the district court.
to place (a show dog or other animal) in exhibition.
to cut away the working faces of (a mine or quarry) in benches.
Sports. to remove from a game or keep from participating in a game: to be benched because of poor hitting.
on the bench,
serving as a judge in a court of law; presiding.
Sports. (of a player) not participating in play, either for part or all of a game.

before 1000; Middle English, Old English benc; cognate with Old Frisian benk, Old Saxon, Dutch, Old High German bank, Old Norse bekkr < Germanic *bank-i-; see bank1

benchless, adjective
unbench, verb (used with object)
Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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World English Dictionary
bench (bɛntʃ)
1.  a long seat for more than one person, usually lacking a back or arms
2.  a plain stout worktable
3.  (sometimes capital) the bench
 a.  a judge or magistrate sitting in court in a judicial capacity
 b.  judges or magistrates collectively
4.  sport the seat on which reserve players and officials sit during a game
5.  geology a flat narrow platform of land, esp one marking a former shoreline
6.  a ledge in a mine or quarry from which work is carried out
7.  (in a gymnasium) a low table, which may be inclined, used for various exercises
8.  a platform on which dogs or other domestic animals are exhibited at shows
9.  (NZ) a hollow on a hillside formed by sheep
10.  to provide with benches
11.  to exhibit (a dog, etc) at a show
12.  (NZ) to form (a track) up a hill by excavating a flattened area
13.  (US), (Canadian) sport to take or keep (a player) out of a game, often for disciplinary reasons
[Old English benc; related to Old Norse bekkr, Old High German bank, Danish, Swedish bänk; see bank³]

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

O.E. benc "long seat," from P.Gmc. *bankiz (cf. Da. bænk, M.Du. banc, O.H.G. banch). Used for "office of a judge" since late 13c. Sporting sense (in baseball, N.Amer. football, etc.) is from 1909; the verb meaning "to take out of the game" is from 1902.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Bible Dictionary

Bench definition

deck of a Tyrian ship, described by Ezekiel (27:6) as overlaid with box-wood.

Easton's 1897 Bible Dictionary
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American Heritage
Idioms & Phrases

on the bench

  1. Presiding as judge in a law court, as in Lawyers are very careful when Judge Brown is on the bench. This usage alludes to the seat occupied by a judge. [Late 1200s]

  2. Waiting for a chance to participate; also, removed from participation. For example, Mary complained that all her colleagues were going to the sales conference while she was left on the bench. This usage comes from baseball and other sports, where players not deemed ready or competent to play sit on a bench watching the game. [Early 1900s]

The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer.
Copyright © 1997. Published by Houghton Mifflin.
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