Merriam-Webster’s Word of the Day for December 4, 2020 is:

distend • dih-STEND  • verb

1 : extend

2 : to enlarge, expand, or stretch out (as from internal pressure) : swell


“At the Aurora … the finest performers in Josh Costello’s cast … add still further pleasure to the avalanche of wit. They make it sing—and croak and hiss and squeal, thunder and bark and gurgle. They distend syllables. They ride the waves of diphthongs. They scale octaves in a breath and then find a comedic thump of a note to land on. It’s pitch as punch line.” — Lily Janiak, The San Francisco Chronicle, 23 Apr. 2019

“Stomach bloating is when the tummy becomes distended, causing it to feel uncomfortable. It often occurs after eating a big meal. But for some, bloating is more than an occasional inconvenience.” — Katrina Turrill, The Sunday Express (UK), 21 Apr. 2019

Did you know?

The history of the word distend stretches back to the Latin verb tendere—a root whose kin have really expanded the English language. To find evidence of this expansion, look to words that include “tend” or “tent”; many have tendere, which means “to stretch, extend, or spread,” in their family tree. Perhaps the simplest example is tent, which names a shelter made from a piece of material stretched over a frame. You’ll also find the influence of tendere in extend, tendon, contend, portend, and tendency.

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