Defence vs. Defense: Which Is The Correct Spelling?

dark aqua text "defence vs defense" on dark aqua background

Quick summary

Defense and defence are two different spellings of the same word. The defense spelling is more common in American English, while the defence spelling is more common in British English.  

Depending on where you live, you may see a word spelled as defense or defence. Which of these spellings is correct? Are they both right?

In this article, we will explain why the same word can be spelled as either defense or defence, give examples of how we use this word in sentences, and provide examples of other words that follow a similar spelling pattern preference. 

defense vs. defence

Defense and defence are two different spellings of the same word that typically means “protection” or “something that guards against harm.” 

In American English, the spelling defense is typically considered standard and is much more commonly used. In British English, the spelling defence is typically the preferred spelling and is more commonly used. 

Both spellings have all of the same meanings and uses. For example:

  • We used a big net as defense/defence against mosquitoes.
  • The brave soldiers stood in defense/defence of the city.

Examples of defense vs. defence

Let’s look at how we typically use defense and defence in sentences.

  • A small stone wall acts as a defense/defence to keep hungry rabbits away from my vegetable garden. 
  • Porcupines use their quills as a strong defense/defence against predators. 

Similar words

Defense isn’t the only word ending in –ense in American English that ends in –ence in British English. Other words that follow this pattern include:

Yet not every word ending in –ense in American English changes to –ence in British English. For example, the words incense, intense, dispense, and condense have the same spelling in both these dialects.

Get to know some of the main ways British and American English differ.

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