1. serving to defend; protective: defensive armament.
  2. made or carried on for the purpose of resisting attack: defensive treaty; a defensive attitude.
  3. of or relating to defense.
  4. (of stocks, securities, etc.)
    1. able to provide moderately steady growth with minimal risk: The bank has put a large percentage of its assets in defensive rather than growth stocks.
    2. considered stable and relatively safe for investment, especially during a decline in the economy.
  5. excessively concerned with guarding against the real or imagined threat of criticism, injury to one's ego, or exposure of one's shortcomings.
  1. a position or attitude of defense: to be on the defensive about one's mistakes.
  2. 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
Related formsde·fen·sive·ly, adverbde·fen·sive·ness, nounnon·de·fen·sive, adjectivenon·de·fen·sive·ly, adverbnon·de·fen·sive·ness, nouno·ver·de·fen·sive, adjectiveo·ver·de·fen·sive·ly, adverbo·ver·de·fen·sive·ness, nounsem·i·de·fen·sive, adjectivesem·i·de·fen·sive·ly, adverbsem·i·de·fen·sive·ness, nounun·de·fen·sive, adjectiveun·de·fen·sive·ly, adverbun·de·fen·sive·ness, noun Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for non-defensive

Historical Examples of 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


  1. intended, suitable, or done for defence, as opposed to offence
  2. rejecting criticisms of oneself or covering up one's failings
  1. a position of defence
  2. 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.