[ dih-fen-siv ]
/ dɪˈfɛn sɪv /



a position or attitude of defense: to be on the defensive about one's mistakes.
Obsolete. something that serves to defend.

Origin of defensive

1350–1400; < Medieval Latin dēfēnsīvus (see defense, -ive); replacing Middle English defensif < Middle French < Medieval Latin, as above

OTHER WORDS FROM defensive Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2020

Examples from the Web for defensiveness

British Dictionary definitions for defensiveness

/ (dɪˈfɛnsɪv) /


intended, suitable, or done for defence, as opposed to offence
rejecting criticisms of oneself or covering up one's failings


a position of defence
on the defensive in an attitude or position of defence, as in being ready to reject criticism

Derived forms of defensive

defensively, adverbdefensiveness, noun
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

Idioms and Phrases with defensiveness


see on the defensive.

The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.