• synonyms


  1. serving to defend; protective: defensive armament.
  2. made or carried on for the purpose of resisting attack: defensive treaty; a defensive attitude.
  3. of or relating to defense.
  4. (of stocks, securities, etc.)
    1. able to provide moderately steady growth with minimal risk: The bank has put a large percentage of its assets in defensive rather than growth stocks.
    2. considered stable and relatively safe for investment, especially during a decline in the economy.
  5. excessively concerned with guarding against the real or imagined threat of criticism, injury to one's ego, or exposure of one's shortcomings.
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  1. a position or attitude of defense: to be on the defensive about one's mistakes.
  2. Obsolete. something that serves to defend.
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Origin of defensive

1350–1400; < Medieval Latin dēfēnsīvus (see defense, -ive); replacing Middle English defensif < Middle French < Medieval Latin, as above
Related formsde·fen·sive·ly, adverbde·fen·sive·ness, nounnon·de·fen·sive, adjectivenon·de·fen·sive·ly, adverbnon·de·fen·sive·ness, nouno·ver·de·fen·sive, adjectiveo·ver·de·fen·sive·ly, adverbo·ver·de·fen·sive·ness, nounsem·i·de·fen·sive, adjectivesem·i·de·fen·sive·ly, adverbsem·i·de·fen·sive·ness, nounun·de·fen·sive, adjectiveun·de·fen·sive·ly, adverbun·de·fen·sive·ness, noun
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for undefensive

Historical Examples

  • Her eyes grew seriously deep and undefensive in their frankness.

    The Law of Hemlock Mountain

    Hugh Lundsford

British Dictionary definitions for undefensive


  1. intended, suitable, or done for defence, as opposed to offence
  2. rejecting criticisms of oneself or covering up one's failings
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  1. a position of defence
  2. on the defensive in an attitude or position of defence, as in being ready to reject criticism
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Derived Formsdefensively, adverbdefensiveness, noun
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 undefensive


c.1400 (adj. and noun), from French défensif (14c.), from Medieval Latin defensivus, from defens-, past participle stem of Latin defendere (see defend). Of persons, "alert to reject criticism," from 1919. Related: Defensively; defensiveness.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Idioms and Phrases with undefensive


see on the defensive.

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The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.