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[dih-fens or especially for 7, 9, dee-fens] /dɪˈfɛns or especially for 7, 9, ˈdi fɛns/
resistance against attack; protection:
Two more regiments are needed for the defense of the city.
something that defends, as a fortification, physical or mental quality, or medication:
This fort was once the main defense of the island.
the defending of a cause or the like by speech, argument, etc.:
He spoke in defense of the nation's foreign policy.
a speech, argument, etc., in vindication:
She delivered a defense of free enterprise.
  1. the denial or pleading of the defendant in answer to the claim or charge that has been made.
  2. the proceedings adopted by a defendant, or the defendant's legal agents, for defending against the charges that have been made.
  3. a defendant and his or her counsel.
Psychology, defense mechanism (def 2).
  1. the practice or art of defending oneself or one's goal against attack, as in fencing, boxing, soccer, or football.
  2. the team attempting to thwart the attack of the team having the ball or puck.
  3. the players of a team who line up in their own defensive zone.
  4. the positions on the field, ice, etc., taken by such players.
(initial capital letter). Also called Defense Department. Informal. the Department of Defense.
verb (used with object), defensed, defensing.
Sports. to defend against (an opponent, play, or tactic).
Also, especially British, defence.
1250-1300; Middle English < Old French < Late Latin dēfēnsa a forbidding, noun use of feminine of past participle of Latin dēfendere to defend; replacing Middle English defens < Anglo-French, Old French < Medieval Latin defēnsum (thing) forbidden, neuter past participle of Latin dēfendere
Related forms
defenseless, adjective
defenselessly, adverb
defenselessness, noun
nondefense, noun, adjective
predefense, noun
undefensed, adjective
1. security, preservation, safeguard. 3. support, advocacy, justification. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for defense
  • Countries have their own peculiar accounting system for defense spending.
  • When a bacterium enters the body, the first line of defense it encounters is the innate immune system.
  • Because the prairie dog defense system is so good, predators frequently fail and must look elsewhere for dinner.
  • The real surprise came on the other side of the ball: a defense that finally showed it can take charge of a game.
  • They have different origins and functions, and serve essential roles in plant growth, defense and reproduction.
  • He was charged with retaining national defense information.
  • Sometimes the best defense isn't a good offense-it's a good diet.
  • US defense department has some explaining over why they expose their citizens to health risk.
  • Wherever you garden, the best defense against cold damage is to choose trees and shrubs that are hardy in your climate zone.
  • Both statesman and soldier, his name can represent the diplomatic as well as military aspect of defense policy.
British Dictionary definitions for defense


resistance against danger, attack, or harm; protection
a person or thing that provides such resistance
a plea, essay, speech, etc, in support of something; vindication; justification
  1. a country's military measures or resources
  2. (as modifier): defence spending
(law) a defendant's denial of the truth of the allegations or charge against him
(law) the defendant and his legal advisers collectively Compare prosecution
  1. the action of protecting oneself, one's goal, or one's allotted part of the playing area against an opponent's attacks
  2. the method of doing this
  3. the defence, the players in a team whose function is to do this
(American football) (usually preceded by the)
  1. the team that does not have possession of the ball
  2. the members of a team that play in such circumstances
(psychoanal) See defence mechanism
(pl) fortifications
Derived Forms
defenceless, (US) defenseless, adjective
defencelessly, (US) defenselessly, adverb
defencelessness, (US) defenselessness, noun
Word Origin
C13: from Old French, from Late Latin dēfensum, past participle of dēfendere to defend
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
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Word Origin and History for defense

c.1300, "forbidding, prohibition," also "action of guarding or protecting," from Old French defense, from Latin defensus, past participle of defendere "ward off, protect" (see defend). But it also arrived (without the final -e) from Old French defens, from Latin defensum "thing protected or forbidden," neuter past participle of defendere.

Defens was assimilated into defense, but not before it inspired the alternative spelling defence, via the same tendency that produced hence (hennis), pence (penies), dunce (Duns). First used 1935 as a euphemism for "national military resources." Defense mechanism in psychology is from 1913.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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defense in Medicine

defense de·fense (dĭ-fěns')
A means or method that helps protect the body or mind, as against disease or anxiety.

de·fen'sive (-fěn'sĭv) adj.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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Slang definitions & phrases for defense


Related Terms

nickel defense

The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D.
Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers.
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