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on the defensive

Prepared for withstanding aggression or attack, as in The debate team's plan was to keep their opponents on the defensive, or This teacher put students on the defensive about their mistakes. [ c. 1600 ]
The American HeritageĀ® Idioms Dictionary
Copyright Ā© 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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