- the act of defending one's person when physically attacked, as by countering blows or overcoming an assailant: the art of self-defense.
- a claim or plea that the use of force or injuring or killing another was necessary in defending one's own person from physical attack: He shot the man who was trying to stab him and pleaded self-defense at the murder trial.
- an act or instance of defending or protecting one's own interests, property, ideas, etc., as by argument or strategy.
Also especially British, self-de·fence.
Origin of self-defense
First recorded in 1645–55
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018
Examples from the Web for self-defence
I am never successful in my little attempts at deception, even in self-defence.The Fortune Hunter
Louis Joseph Vance
Good customs are universal and varied, like native chivalry and self-defence.Alarms and Discursions
G. K. Chesterton
In what other manner could we ever study the art of self-defence?Laws
This may have been because of a desire to please me, or in self-defence; I am inclined to think the latter.Kent Knowles: Quahaug
Joseph C. Lincoln
What I had done was partly in self-defence, and I did not consider it a crime.The Eternal City
- the act of defending oneself, one's actions, ideas, etc
- boxing as a means of defending the person (esp in the phrase noble art of self-defence)
- law the right to defend one's person, family, or property against attack or threat of attack by the use of no more force than is reasonable
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
Word Origin and History for self-defence
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper