‘For some, a failure to do so may be driven largely by social isolation and a lack of personal connections. For others, the key barrier could be bending time in their otherwise hectic lifestyles.’

Source: Dailymail Science/Tech article

1 Answer 1


It means finding time, but the phrase bending time is not common and likely was a mistake

From context, the sentence is effectively meaning:

For others, the key barrier could be finding time in their otherwise hectic lifestyles.

That is, the reason a lot of people don't eat meals together - is that they don't have the time to do so, as they have a lot going on in their life.

As it's an online publication, the chance of bending time being an error is relatively higher than a published book.

This could be a typographical error, where the author was thinking of the word "finding" (or similar), but accidentally typed "bending" (or close enough an automated spellchecker corrected it to bending). This isn't a particularly unrealistic assumption; it's something most writers have done at some point.

Or it could be a mistake in meaning of bending. That is, to the author the phrase bending time makes sense as a metaphor for having to manipulate their free time to get space for eating together.

The reason I'd suggest this is incorrect, is that while you might talk about bending your lifestyle - to imply having flexibility in your lifestyle or routine (thus gaining more free time), you can't necessarily make the time itself flexible, or magically increase the free time you have directly. It's also simply not a common phrase (to the extent you won't find it in a dictionary).

It's worth noting that these kinds of odd phrases appear relatively commonly from native speakers. As long as the sentence has enough context - people will understand the meaning and generally not think twice about it.

The good news for English Language Learners, is that when you make the same kind of mistake/odd use of terms - as long as there was enough context - people won't think twice about it either.

  • 1
    You've nailed it. The phrase in question is (mis)quoted from external article. The original study indeed says "finding time." (The original study can be found here; the misquoted sentence can be found on Page 20.) I wonder if the transcription error occurred in part because of the word be found right before finding; someone typing could easily have typed the letters 'b' and 'e' a second time, thus changing finding to bending.
    – J.R.
    May 24, 2018 at 9:37
  • 1
    It's possibly a way of "clever" way of saying stretching time (in the E=mC squared sense). It is an article in the Science section, after all.
    – TimR
    May 24, 2018 at 11:30

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