I googled the meaning of 'tend to business', and dictionary says that the meaning is similar to 'do one's business'. But I don't understand its meaning in the context below. I wonder if the business is 'the problem' that the speaker is facing right now or 'something other' that he really has to do after quickly solving the problem.

Here is the example from a novel 'Baker's blue-jay yarn' by the Mark Twain.

'Why, I didn't hear it fall!' He cocked his eye at the hole again, and took a long look; raised up and shook his head; stepped around to the other side of the hole and took another look from that side; shook his head again. He studied awhile, then he just went into the details - walked round and round the hole and spied into it from every point of the compass. No use. Now he took a thinking attitude on the comb of the roof and scratched the back of his head with his right foot a minute, and finally says, 'Well, it's too many for me, that's certain; must be a mighty long hole; however, I ain't got no time to fool around here, I got to tend to business; I reckon it's all right - chance it, anyway.'

  • "tend to" in this context means "attend to", "pay attention to", "take care of"— one might also "tend to" a garden, or a sick child. But your question seems to be more about what the "business" is.
    – Wim Lewis
    Aug 14, 2015 at 7:46

2 Answers 2


In this case, it implies that he does not have any time to spend thinking, or getting help, or feeling sorry for himself, but must get right in to whatever it is that needs doing. In this case, "business" is somewhat metaphorical meaning an unpleasant task that has to be done.

Exactly what his "business" is can not be deduced from this paragraph. In the next paragraph, did he go into or interact with the hole? In that case, that is his business. If he went off somewhere else, then the importance is not on what his business actually is, but that the hole is not it.

  • The story can be read here. The jay does return to the hole in the next paragraph. But I think the "business" is the general activity of being a blue-jay (they like to carry and hide acorns), and the confusing properties of the hole are a distraction from the jay's "business".
    – Wim Lewis
    Aug 14, 2015 at 7:44

"Tend to" here means "pay undivided attention to", "keep doing".

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