I'm confused with the use of prepositions in the following setence. Which preposition is acceptable?

He was bent on/for music and dancing.

  • to be bent on something: to want to only do that. It's an idiom.
    – Lambie
    Mar 1, 2018 at 14:32

2 Answers 2


Bent on X is an idiom that means "really wanting to X" or "really intending to X". This is an example of an idiom where the meanings of the individual words do not add up to the final meaning.

Bent for X would have its literal meaning and would be strange.

  • It is not an idiom but a figurative usage. To be bent means to be inclined from a straight line, tending in a particular direction, which in to be bent on X becomes, figuratively, as having a leaning or bias, a strong proclivity, desire, or fixation to do X. Mar 1, 2018 at 17:35

According to the Cambridge Dictionary, the correct term is bent on, which means

to be very determined to do something

You can suggest that somebody is even more determined to do something, particularly something potentially damaging, by saying hell bent on. There is another expression Hell for leather, and somehow these two have been mixed up to give hell bent for leather and a few variants of it.

This NGram shows that bent on is the main usage but bent for does occur occasionally, particularly in a hell bent for type phrase.

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