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 British, self-de·fence .
- self-de·fen·sive, adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023
How to use self-defense in a sentence
I went into the audition as Fericito, the Venezuelan percussionist, and then I did a self-defense expert.Coffee Talk with Fred Armisen: On ‘Portlandia,’ Meeting Obama, and Taylor Swift’s Greatness | Marlow Stern | January 7, 2015 | THE DAILY BEAST
The fliers, Ancona explained, are meant to educate people on what rights they legally have to use lethal force in self-defense.The Klan’s Call to Violence in Ferguson Blows the Lid Off Its Hypocritical Rebrand | Caitlin Dickson | November 14, 2014 | THE DAILY BEAST
Exceptions are granted for self-defense, or when the U.N. Security Council specifically authorizes it.
The modern air forces built by autocratic Arab monarchies are designed primarily for self-defense, not attack.
She said she believes Wilson acted in self-defense, but if she were convinced otherwise, she would close down her support group.Ferguson Police Officer Darren Wilson Has a Serious Online Fan Club | Gideon Resnick | August 19, 2014 | THE DAILY BEAST
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