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

Nearby words

  1. defense,
  2. defense mechanism,
  3. defenseless,
  4. defenseman,
  5. defensible,
  6. defensive back,
  7. defensive circle,
  8. defensive driving,
  9. defensive medicine,
  10. defensively

Origin of defensive

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

Related forms Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for non-defensive

  • It is a curious characteristic of the non-defensive disposition that it is like a honey-jar to flies.

    Jennie Gerhardt|Theodore Dreiser

British Dictionary definitions for non-defensive



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 Formsdefensively, 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

Word Origin and History for non-defensive


c.1400 (adj. and noun), from French défensif (14c.), from Medieval Latin defensivus, from defens-, past participle stem of Latin defendere (see defend). Of persons, "alert to reject criticism," from 1919. Related: Defensively; defensiveness.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Idioms and Phrases with non-defensive


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.