[ self-di-fens, self- ]
See synonyms for: self-defenseself-defenses on

  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.

  1. an act or instance of defending or protecting one's own interests, property, ideas, etc., as by argument or strategy.

Origin of self-defense

First recorded in 1645–55
  • Also British, self-de·fence .

Other words from self-defense

  • self-de·fen·sive, adjective

Words Nearby self-defense Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use self-defense in a sentence

  • And he was so infernally insistent about it, that she was forced to pull up and get away from the post in self-defense.

    Raw Gold | Bertrand W. Sinclair
  • We did not wish to shoot them, but they forced us to do so in self-defense.

    Frank Merriwell's Bravery | Burt L. Standish
  • Yet, after all, despite his vow to his father, this had been actual self-defense.

    The Ghost Breaker | Charles Goddard
  • It was only those directly at Red's back who saw the swift play, and to their eyes it bore the seeming of self-defense.

    The Code of the Mountains | Charles Neville Buck
  • These men depended upon making a case of self-defense, and looked to him to see them through.

    The Code of the Mountains | Charles Neville Buck