- 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-defense
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
January 7, 2015
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
November 14, 2014
Exceptions are granted for self-defense, or when the U.N. Security Council specifically authorizes it.Obama's New War on ISIS May Be Illegal
September 11, 2014
The modern air forces built by autocratic Arab monarchies are designed primarily for self-defense, not attack.How a Real Air War Could Demolish ISIS
August 23, 2014
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
August 19, 2014
And, in self-defense, he was forced into a survey of his own riding-breeches.The Night Riders
Jake had a gun, and Mink is able to prove that he shot in self-defense.They of the High Trails
As for Farley—you of course had to shoot him, in self-defense.Bloom of Cactus
Robert Ames Bennet
From a struggle for self-defense this has become a war of conquest.
We did not wish to shoot them, but they forced us to do so in self-defense.Frank Merriwell's Bravery
Burt L. Standish
Word Origin and History for self-defense
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper