- the act of defending one's person when physically attacked, as by countering blows or overcoming an assailant: the art of self-defense.
- a claim or plea that the use of force or injuring or killing another was necessary in defending one's own person from physical attack: He shot the man who was trying to stab him and pleaded self-defense at the murder trial.
- an act or instance of defending or protecting one's own interests, property, ideas, etc., as by argument or strategy.
Also especially British, self-de·fence.
Origin of self-defense
First recorded in 1645–55
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018
Examples from the Web for self-defence
I am never successful in my little attempts at deception, even in self-defence.The Fortune Hunter
Louis Joseph Vance
Good customs are universal and varied, like native chivalry and self-defence.Alarms and Discursions
G. K. Chesterton
In what other manner could we ever study the art of self-defence?Laws
This may have been because of a desire to please me, or in self-defence; I am inclined to think the latter.Kent Knowles: Quahaug
Joseph C. Lincoln
What I had done was partly in self-defence, and I did not consider it a crime.The Eternal City
- the act of defending oneself, one's actions, ideas, etc
- boxing as a means of defending the person (esp in the phrase noble art of self-defence)
- law the right to defend one's person, family, or property against attack or threat of attack by the use of no more force than is reasonable
Word Origin and History for self-defence
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper