[ dih-fen-siv-nis ]

  1. excessive concern with guarding against the real or imagined threat of criticism, injury to one’s ego, exposure of one’s shortcomings, etc.: Employee defensiveness may be reduced by moving the focus of the conversation from the person to the behaviors.

  2. the condition of being abnormally sensitive to certain stimuli, leading to avoidance or overreaction: Sensory defensiveness often takes the form of increased negative reactivity to noises from fans, clocks, car doors, etc.

  1. the state or condition of being prepared to defend against attack from an enemy: A military adviser’s job involves improving a nation's army and overall defensiveness against foreign attackers.

Origin of defensiveness

First recorded in 1595–1605; defensive + -ness

Other words from defensiveness

  • non·de·fen·sive·ness, noun
  • o·ver·de·fen·sive·ness, noun
  • sem·i·de·fen·sive·ness, noun
  • un·de·fen·sive·ness, noun

Words Nearby defensiveness Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use defensiveness in a sentence