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The following is an excerpt from the book 100 Greatest Science Discoveries of All Time by Kendall Haven.

Charles Darwin entered Cambridge University in 1827 to become a priest, but switched to geology and botany. He graduated in 1831 and, at age 22, took a position as naturalist aboard the HMS Beagle bound from England for South America and the Pacific.

There are more than 30 entries about the word "bound" in the Merriam-Webster Collegiate Dictionary. I am not able to tell which one is correct.

How should I understand it in the excerpt above?

Edited: Is this question too stupid? The problem is that I don't understand the part of speech for this word here. Furthermore I am not able to judge the pattern of the second sentence.

Edited: This is a very common word in mathematics. However, it is difficult for me to pick up the exact meaning from bunch of entries due to my inefficiency in English when this word is of its uncommon (for me) usage.

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closed as general reference by slim, Robusto, FumbleFingers, Gnawme, MετάEd Feb 15 '12 at 19:20

This question is too basic; it can be definitively and permanently answered by a single link to a standard internet reference source designed specifically to find that type of information.If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

If you try to make sense of each of the definitions in turn (there aren't that many), you'll find that one makes perfect sense and none of the others do. – slim Feb 15 '12 at 16:45
General reference. MW adjective sense 2 intending to go. I'd say "headed". – FumbleFingers Feb 15 '12 at 17:04
There are more than eleven entries in the Merriam-Webster Dictionary. – Jack Feb 15 '12 at 17:06
@Ed Guiness: I didn't know the archaic ready, prepared sense given by dictionary.reference.com - but assuming Haven wasn't writing while Darwin was still alive, it's hardly likely he'd have meant this! – FumbleFingers Feb 15 '12 at 17:08
RE general reference: Aww, give the guy a break. He got bound up in a long list of definitions. He's bound to get confused by them all. He just needs some help to put some bounds on which ones might be applicable. Don't just assume a question is out of bounds and bound over to the "close" button. – Jay Feb 15 '12 at 18:08
up vote 3 down vote accepted

It means "heading for" in this context. It is used for this because the journey would have taken months, and so the ship would have been bound for South America for a long time, unlike when we fly today, where we just assume that once a plane takes off, it is just a matter of a few hours before it gets to its destination.

There is also the possibility implicit that even though the current destination is South America, there was liable to be many diversions on the way, and it may be that they never got to South America, but had to turn round somewhere on the way, or head off somewhere else. So the implication is of a current long-term destination, which gives an idea of the part of the world they were working towards ( and a sense of how long it would be taking before they returned )

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