fend off

To fend off is to drive something away or otherwise defend yourself against something. Fend off attack kittens with a big pillow or fend off hunger with a bowl of popcorn.

You can fend something off literally, as when you fend off a swarm of bees by waving your arms around and running in circles. You can also figuratively fend things off, like when a politician fends off a reporter's questions by changing the subject. Fend off comes from the verb fend, used without the off before about the mid-14th century to mean "defend or guard."

Definitions of fend off
  1. verb
    prevent the occurrence of; prevent from happening
    synonyms: avert, avoid, debar, deflect, forefend, forfend, head off, obviate, stave off, ward off
    see moresee less
    type of:
    forbid, foreclose, forestall, preclude, preempt, prevent
    keep from happening or arising; make impossible
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