World English Dictionary
tend1 (tɛnd)
vb (when intr, usually foll by to or towards)
1.  (when tr, takes an infinitive) to have a general disposition (to do something); be inclined: children tend to prefer sweets to meat
2.  (intr) to have or be an influence (towards a specific result); be conducive: the party atmosphere tends to hilarity
3.  (intr) to go or move (in a particular direction): to tend to the south
[C14: from Old French tendre, from Latin tendere to stretch]

World English Dictionary
tend2 (tɛnd)
vb (when intr, often foll by to) (often foll by to)
1.  (tr) to care for: to tend wounded soldiers
2.  to attend (to): to tend to someone's needs
3.  (tr) to handle or control: to tend a fire
4.  informal chiefly (US), (Canadian) to pay attention
[C14: variant of attend]

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

"to incline, to move in a certain direction," c.1350, from O.Fr. tendre "stretch, hold forth, offer" (11c.), from L. tendere "to aim, stretch, extend" (see tenet).

"attend to," early 14c., aphetic of M.E. atenden (see attend).
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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American Heritage
Idioms & Phrases

tend to

  1. Apply one's attention, as in We should tend to our business, which is to teach youngsters. This term uses tend in the sense of "attend." [1300s]

  2. Be disposed or inclined, as in We tend to believe whatever we are told. This term uses tend in the sense of "have a tendency." [c. 1600]

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