1. The act of defending against attack, danger, or injury.
2. A means or method of defending or protecting.
3. Sports The act or an instance of defending a championship against a challenger: will box in his third defense of his title.
4. An argument in support or justification of something. See Synonyms at apology.
a. The act of defending a case.
b. A fact or law that provides a full or partial exoneration of the defendant against the charges or claims made in a lawsuit or prosecution.
c. The defendant and the defendant's legal counsel.
6. The science or art of defending oneself; self-defense.
7. (often dēfĕns′) Sports
a. The means or tactics used in trying to stop the opposition from scoring.
b. The team or those players on the team attempting to stop the opposition from scoring.
c. Defending ability or potential.
8. The provision of personnel and resources for military purposes: proposed spending more on defense.
tr.v. de·fensed, de·fens·ing, de·fens·es
1. To attempt to stop (the opposition) from scoring.
2. To play defense against (an opponent or play).
[Middle English, from Old French, from Latin dēfēnsa, from feminine past participle of dēfendere, to ward off; see DEFEND.]
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2018 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices
Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:
The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.