Dictionary.com
definitions
  • synonyms

self-defense

[self-di-fens, self-]
See more synonyms for self-defense on Thesaurus.com
noun
  1. the act of defending one's person when physically attacked, as by countering blows or overcoming an assailant: the art of self-defense.
  2. 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.
  3. an act or instance of defending or protecting one's own interests, property, ideas, etc., as by argument or strategy.
Show More
Also especially British, self-de·fence.

Origin of self-defense

First recorded in 1645–55
Related formsself-de·fen·sive, adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for self-defence

Historical Examples

  • 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

    Plato

  • 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.


British Dictionary definitions for self-defence

self-defence

noun
  1. the act of defending oneself, one's actions, ideas, etc
  2. boxing as a means of defending the person (esp in the phrase noble art of self-defence)
  3. 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
Show More
Derived Formsself-defensive, adjective
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 self-defence

self-defense

n.

1650s, "act of defending oneself," first attested in Hobbes, from self- + defense. In sports sense, first with reference to fencing (1728), then boxing (1820s).

Show More
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper