verb (used with object)
to ward off attack from; guard against assault or injury (usually followed by from or against ): The sentry defended the gate against sudden attack.
to maintain by argument, evidence, etc.; uphold: She defended her claim successfully.
to contest (a legal charge, claim, etc.).
Law. to serve as attorney for (a defendant): He has defended some of the most notorious criminals.
to support (an argument, theory, etc.) in the face of criticism; prove the validity of (a dissertation, thesis, or the like) by answering arguments and questions put by a committee of specialists.
to attempt to retain (a championship title, position, etc.), as in a competition against a challenger.
verb (used without object)
Law. to enter or make a defense.

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

defendable, adjective
defender, noun
predefend, verb (used with object)
undefendable, adjective
undefendableness, noun
undefendably, adverb
undefended, adjective
undefending, adjective
well-defended, adjective

1. shelter, screen, shield; garrison, fortify. 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. 2. vindicate.

1. attack. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
Cite This Source Link To defend
World English Dictionary
defend (dɪˈfɛnd)
1.  to protect (a person, place, etc) from harm or danger; ward off an attack on
2.  (tr) to support in the face of criticism, esp by argument or evidence
3.  to represent (a defendant) in court in a civil or criminal action
4.  sport to guard or protect (oneself, one's goal, etc) against attack
5.  (tr) to protect (a championship or title) against a challenge
[C13: from Old French defendre, from Latin dēfendere to ward off, from de- + -fendere to strike]

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009
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Word Origin & History

mid-13c., from O.Fr. defendre, from L. defendere "ward off, protect," from de- "from, away" + fendere "to strike, push." In the Mercian hymns, L. defendet is glossed by O.E. gescildeð.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Example sentences
To champion something is to support it, to defend it.
Students are scrambling to defend their dissertations so that they can graduate
  on time.
The trouble with the new multinational outfit is that its members might have to
  defend people by firing weapons.
They bestride the top of the food chain and are well equipped to defend
  themselves in nature.
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