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[self-di-fens, self-] /ˈsɛlf dɪˈfɛns, ˌsɛlf-/
the act of defending one's person when physically attacked, as by countering blows or overcoming an assailant:
the art of self-defense.
a claim or plea that the use of force or injuring or killing another was necessary in defending one's own person from physical attack:
He shot the man who was trying to stab him and pleaded self-defense at the murder trial.
an act or instance of defending or protecting one's own interests, property, ideas, etc., as by argument or strategy.
Also, especially British, self-defence.
Origin of self-defense
Related forms
self-defensive, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for self-defense
  • He did not throw himself back on the natural right of self-defense.
  • So a legitimate, imperative call to self-defense was distorted into an ignorant, messianic war.
  • Media attention has begun to focus on the demand for legally obtained guns for self-defense.
  • The crucial question for the prosecution was whether a jury could be persuaded that the killing had not been self-defense.
  • The concept of self-defense for individuals and nations was and is a serious one.
  • It helps give self-defense lessons a sense of urgency.
  • When she fights, it is in an emotional vacuum and always in self-defense.
  • In self-defense, they are quick to argue the merits of deep-space flight.
  • Except in cases of self-defense, violence is never the proper way to remedy a perceived wrong.
  • Releasing the drug close to a cancer cell's nucleus appears to protect it from the cell's self-defense mechanism.
Word Origin and History for self-defense

1650s, "act of defending oneself," first attested in Hobbes, from self- + defense. In sports sense, first with reference to fencing (1728), then boxing (1820s).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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