See more synonyms for defend on
verb (used with object)
  1. to ward off attack from; guard against assault or injury (usually followed by from or against): The sentry defended the gate against sudden attack.
  2. to maintain by argument, evidence, etc.; uphold: She defended her claim successfully.
  3. to contest (a legal charge, claim, etc.).
  4. Law. to serve as attorney for (a defendant): He has defended some of the most notorious criminals.
  5. to support (an argument, theory, etc.) in the face of criticism; prove the validity of (a dissertation, thesis, or the like) by answering arguments and questions put by a committee of specialists.
  6. to attempt to retain (a championship title, position, etc.), as in a competition against a challenger.
verb (used without object)
  1. Law. to enter or make a defense.

Origin of defend

1200–50; Middle English defenden < Old French defendre < Latin dēfendere to ward off, equivalent to dē- de- + -fendere to strike
Related formsde·fend·a·ble, adjectivede·fend·er, nounpre·de·fend, verb (used with object)un·de·fend·a·ble, adjectiveun·de·fend·a·ble·ness, nounun·de·fend·a·bly, adverbun·de·fend·ed, adjectiveun·de·fend·ing, adjectivewell-de·fend·ed, adjective

Synonyms for defend

See more synonyms for on

Synonym study

1. Defend, guard, preserve, protect all mean to keep safe. To defend is to strive to keep safe by resisting attack: to defend one's country. To guard is to watch over in order to keep safe: to guard a camp. To preserve is to keep safe in the midst of danger, either in a single instance or continuously: to preserve a spirit of conciliation. To protect is to keep safe by interposing a shield or barrier: to protect books by means of heavy paper covers.

Antonyms for defend

1. attack. Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for defend

Contemporary Examples of defend

Historical Examples of defend

British Dictionary definitions for defend


  1. to protect (a person, place, etc) from harm or danger; ward off an attack on
  2. (tr) to support in the face of criticism, esp by argument or evidence
  3. to represent (a defendant) in court in a civil or criminal action
  4. sport to guard or protect (oneself, one's goal, etc) against attack
  5. (tr) to protect (a championship or title) against a challenge
Derived Formsdefendable, adjectivedefender, noun

Word Origin for defend

C13: from Old French defendre, from Latin dēfendere to ward off, from de- + -fendere to strike
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 defend

mid-13c., from Old French defendre (12c.) "defend, resist," and directly from Latin defendere "ward off, protect, guard, allege in defense," from de- "from, away" (see de-) + -fendere "to strike, push," from PIE root *gwhen- "to strike, kill" (see bane). In the Mercian hymns, Latin defendet is glossed by Old English gescildeð. Related: Defended; defending.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper