- resistance against attack; protection: Two more regiments are needed for the defense of the city.
- something that defends, as a fortification, physical or mental quality, or medication: This fort was once the main defense of the island.
- the defending of a cause or the like by speech, argument, etc.: He spoke in defense of the nation's foreign policy.
- a speech, argument, etc., in vindication: She delivered a defense of free enterprise.
- Psychology. defense mechanism(def 2).
- the practice or art of defending oneself or one's goal against attack, as in fencing, boxing, soccer, or football.
- the team attempting to thwart the attack of the team having the ball or puck.
- the players of a team who line up in their own defensive zone.
- the positions on the field, ice, etc., taken by such players.
- (initial capital letter) Also called Defense Department. Informal. the Department of Defense.
- Sports. to defend against (an opponent, play, or tactic).
Origin of defense
SynonymsSee more synonyms on Thesaurus.com
Examples from the Web for defenseless
I understand why you were so moved that you left your secure, comfortable lives to defend the defenseless in a far off land.An Ex-Radical's Open Letter to ISIS Fighters: Quit Now While You Can!
September 10, 2014
Heinous acts, especially when perpetrated on defenseless minors, elicit equally heinous responses even in sane minds.The Revenge of Donna’s Diner
May 11, 2013
Twenty defenseless children were gunned down by a sick individual.In Between Mass Shootings, the Media Have Been MIA on Guns
December 17, 2012
The U.N. agenda, she said, is “to disarm people,” implying it would leave the defenseless even more so.The National Rifle Association’s Bizarre Colorado Response
July 22, 2012
Their ability to launch a surprise strike renders us defenseless.Sharks Are Scary But Not That Dangerous
June 16, 2011
And all this had to come through their defenseless interpreter—me.The Harbor
That meant they knew where Earth was, and how defenseless the planet was to their form of attack.The Hour of Battle
I shouldn't say that shooting a defenseless man answers that requirement.The Vagrant Duke
But in his eyes there was no look of the defenseless: only a light of passionate contempt.
"You're a coward, to strike a defenseless man," said Mr. Baxter contemptuously.The Young Treasure Hunter
Frank V. Webster
Word Origin and History for defenseless
c.1300, "forbidding, prohibition," also "action of guarding or protecting," from Old French defense, from Latin defensus, past participle of defendere "ward off, protect" (see defend). But it also arrived (without the final -e) from Old French defens, from Latin defensum "thing protected or forbidden," neuter past participle of defendere.
Defens was assimilated into defense, but not before it inspired the alternative spelling defence, via the same tendency that produced hence (hennis), pence (penies), dunce (Duns). First used 1935 as a euphemism for "national military resources." Defense mechanism in psychology is from 1913.
- A means or method that helps protect the body or mind, as against disease or anxiety.