View synonyms for defense


[ dih-fens dee-fens ]


  1. resistance against attack; protection:

    Two more regiments are needed for the defense of the city.

    Synonyms: safeguard, security

  2. something that guards against harm, such as a fortification, physical or mental quality, or medication:

    This fort was once the main defense of the island.

  3. the support of a cause or the like by speech, argument, etc.:

    He spoke in defense of the nation's foreign policy.

    Synonyms: justification, advocacy, support

  4. a speech, argument, etc., in vindication:

    She delivered a defense of free enterprise.

  5. Law.
    1. the denial or pleading of the defendant in answer to the claim or charge that has been made.
    2. the proceedings adopted by a defendant or the defendant's legal agents, for defending against the charges that have been made.
    3. a defendant and their counsel.
  6. Sports.
    1. the practice or art of shielding oneself or one's goal from attack, as in fencing, boxing, soccer, or football.
    2. the team attempting to thwart the attack of the team having the ball or puck.
    3. the players of a team who line up in their own defensive zone.
    4. the positions on the field, ice, etc., taken by such players.
  7. (initial capital letter) Also called Defense Department. Informal. the Department of Defense.

verb (used with object)

, de·fensed, de·fens·ing.
  1. Sports. to defend against (an opponent, play, or tactic).

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Other Words From

  • de·fense·less adjective
  • de·fense·less·ly adverb
  • de·fense·less·ness noun
  • non·de·fense noun adjective
  • pre·de·fense noun
  • un·de·fensed adjective

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Word History and Origins

Origin of defense1

First recorded in 1250–1300; Middle English from Old French from Late Latin dēfēnsa “a forbidding,” noun use of feminine of past participle of Latin dēfendere “to defend ”; replacing Middle English defens, from Anglo-French, Old French, from Medieval Latin defēnsum “(thing) forbidden,” neuter past participle of Latin dēfendere

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Example Sentences

Atlanta has started bolstering its defenses against climate change, but in some cases this has only exacerbated divisions.

Much like the last time this club looked worthy of a title, in 2018, this defense is versatile enough to switch its assignments to guard ball screens.

That key defense won’t change as more suits are filed, Kammer said.

From Fortune

Tensions have been mounting locally between federal defense attorneys and prosecutors over practices during the pandemic.

Matthews and his colleagues hypothesize that the plants might produce hexyl glucoside chemicals as a defense against the pests.

I went into the audition as Fericito, the Venezuelan percussionist, and then I did a self-defense expert.

There is just no way of selling this picture with an innocent defense like, “she just asked for a snap.”

But, but … there was a token black girl in the background, Target cried in its defense!

But the fun starts when conservatives stop playing defense and go on offense.

And from there, the letter asked for money for a legal defense fund.

And all the while she fought him, she punctuated her blows with words, some abusing him, others in defense of her father.

That, in the light of present conditions, is the most important thing for the necessary maintenance and defense of these islands.

Everything was placed in the best state of defense that time allowed, so that any attack of the enemy could be repulsed.

I sent an order and what was necessary for the fortification at Oton, and had that port put in a state of defense.

Les rivieres de Seine & d'Aulbe rendent le lieu de cette Baronnie autant agreable, que fort & avantageux la defense.