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[dih-fend] /dɪˈfɛnd/
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.
Origin of defend
1200-50; Middle English defenden < Old French defendre < Latin dēfendere to ward off, equivalent to dē- de- + -fendere to strike
Related forms
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. 2015.
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Historical Examples
British Dictionary definitions for undefendable


to protect (a person, place, etc) from harm or danger; ward off an attack on
(transitive) to support in the face of criticism, esp by argument or evidence
to represent (a defendant) in court in a civil or criminal action
(sport) to guard or protect (oneself, one's goal, etc) against attack
(transitive) to protect (a championship or title) against a challenge
Derived Forms
defendable, adjective
defender, noun
Word Origin
C13: from Old French defendre, from Latin dēfendere to ward off, from de- + -fendere to strike
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 undefendable



mid-13c., from Old French defendre (12c.) "defend, resist," and directly from Latin defendere "ward off, protect, guard, allege in defense," from de- "from, away" (see de-) + -fendere "to strike, push," from PIE root *gwhen- "to strike, kill" (see bane). In the Mercian hymns, Latin defendet is glossed by Old English gescildeð. Related: Defended; defending.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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