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de·fen·sive (dĭ-fĕnsĭv)
Share:
adj.
1. Intended or appropriate for defending; protective.
2.
a. Intended to withstand or deter aggression or attack: a defensive weapons system; defensive behavior.
b. Of or relating to the effort to prevent an opponent from gaining points in a game or athletic contest.
c. Performed so as to avoid risk, danger, or legal liability: defensive driving; defensive medicine.
3. Of or relating to defense.
4. Psychology Constantly protecting oneself from criticism, exposure of one's shortcomings, or other real or perceived threats to the ego.
n.
1. A means of defense.
2. An attitude or position of defense.
Idiom:
on the defensive
Prepared to withstand or counter aggression or attack.

de·fensive·ly adv.
de·fensive·ness n.

The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2020 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:

    Indo-European Roots

    Semitic Roots

    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.

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