follow Dictionary.com

Get the details behind our redesign

defense mechanism

noun
1.
Physiology. the defensive reaction of an organism, as against a pathogenic microorganism.
2.
Psychology. an unconscious process, as denial, that protects an individual from unacceptable or painful ideas or impulses.
Origin
1890-1895
1890-95
Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
Cite This Source
Examples for defense mechanism
  • Turtles have a natural defense mechanism that causes them to hide in their shells.
  • It's an appealing defense mechanism that let's one hold firm to one's principles in the midst of defeat.
  • In the case of malaria, however, that defense mechanism may backfire.
  • Researchers report a new potential target for drugs that may help unveil an innate human defense mechanism against the disease.
  • Perhaps the dispersal of the males is a multi-faceted defense mechanism.
  • Observe the defense mechanism and lack of motion in the crab spider.
  • One school of thought on pearl formation dictates that pearls are formed as a defense mechanism against parasites.
  • Maybe sometimes forgetting all about a toy line is a defense mechanism.
  • Firefly light may also serve as a defense mechanism that flashes a clear warning of the insect's unappetizing taste.
  • The animal lacks even true eyes but it does have an incredible, and somewhat disgusting, defense mechanism.
defense mechanism in Medicine

defense mechanism n.

  1. Any of a variety of usually unconscious mental processes used to protect oneself from shame, anxiety, loss of self-esteem, conflict, or other unacceptable feelings or thoughts, and including behaviors such as repression, projection, denial, and rationalization.

  2. See immunological mechanism.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Cite This Source
defense mechanism in Culture

defense mechanism definition


In psychology, a Freudian term referring to an unconscious avoidance of something that produces anxiety or some other unpleasant emotion. For example, someone who blots out the memory of a terrible accident is using a defense mechanism. Regression and sublimation are common defense mechanisms.

The American Heritage® New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
Cite This Source

Word of The Day

Difficulty index for defense mechanism

Few English speakers likely know this word

Word Value for defense

11
12
Scrabble Words With Friends

Quotes with defense mechanism