- bent (n.1)
- "mental inclination," 1570s, probably from earlier literal sense "condition of being deflected or turned" (1530s), from bent (adj.) "not straight" (q.v.).
- bent (n.2)
- "stiff grass," Old English beonet, from West Germanic *binut- "rush, marsh grass" (cognates: Old Saxon binet, Old High German binuz, German Binse "rush, reed"), of unknown origin. An obsolete word, but surviving in place names (such as Bentley, from Old English Beonet-leah; Bentham).
The verdure of the plain lies buried deep
Beneath the dazzling deluge; and the bents,
And coarser grass, upspearing o'er the rest,
Of late unsightly and unseen, now shine
Conspicuous, and, in bright apparel clad
And fledg'd with icy feathers, nod superb.
[Cowper, "The Winter-Morning Walk," from "The Task"]
- bent (adj.)
- "not straight," late 14c. (earlier ibent, c.1300, from past participle of bend (v.). Meaning "turned or inclined in some direction" is from 1530s, probably as a translation of Latin inclinatio. Meaning "directed in a course" is from 1690s. Figurative phrase bent out of shape "extremely upset" is 1960s U.S. Air Force and college student slang.