• synonyms


[ dih-fend ]
/ dɪˈfɛnd /

verb (used with object)

verb (used without object)

Law. to enter or make a defense.


defenseless, exposed, vulnerable, weak, assailable, endangered, unguarded

Nearby words

defederalize, defence, defence in depth, defence mechanism, defenceless, defend, defendant, defender, defender of the bond, defender of the faith, defenestrate

Origin of defend

1200–50; Middle English defenden < Old French defendre < Latin dēfendere to ward off, equivalent to dē- de- + -fendere to strike
Related forms

Synonym study

1. Defend, guard, preserve, protect all mean to keep safe. To defend is to strive to keep safe by resisting attack: to defend one's country. To guard is to watch over in order to keep safe: to guard a camp. To preserve is to keep safe in the midst of danger, either in a single instance or continuously: to preserve a spirit of conciliation. To protect is to keep safe by interposing a shield or barrier: to protect books by means of heavy paper covers. Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for undefendable

  • Why should she spare Chris, or try any longer to defend him when he was undefendable?

    A Bachelor Husband|Ruby M. Ayres
  • His proposal was examined by Cornwallis and rejected as undefendable.

    The Road to Independence: Virginia 1763-1783|Virginia State Dept. of Education

British Dictionary definitions for undefendable


/ (dɪˈfɛnd) /


to protect (a person, place, etc) from harm or danger; ward off an attack on
(tr) to support in the face of criticism, esp by argument or evidence
to represent (a defendant) in court in a civil or criminal action
sport to guard or protect (oneself, one's goal, etc) against attack
(tr) to protect (a championship or title) against a challenge
Derived Formsdefendable, adjectivedefender, noun

Word Origin for defend

C13: from Old French defendre, from Latin dēfendere to ward off, from de- + -fendere to strike
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 undefendable



mid-13c., from Old French defendre (12c.) "defend, resist," and directly from Latin defendere "ward off, protect, guard, allege in defense," from de- "from, away" (see de-) + -fendere "to strike, push," from PIE root *gwhen- "to strike, kill" (see bane). In the Mercian hymns, Latin defendet is glossed by Old English gescildeð. Related: Defended; defending.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper