defend

verb
de·​fend | \ di-ˈfend How to pronounce defend (audio) \
defended; defending; defends

Definition of defend

transitive verb

1a : to drive danger or attack away from defend the castle from invaders
b(1) : to maintain or support in the face of argument or hostile criticism defend a theory couldn't defend their actions
(2) : to prove (something, such as a doctoral thesis or dissertation) valid by answering questions in an oral exam preparing to defend her thesis
c sports : to attempt to prevent an opponent from scoring at elects to defend the south goal
2 archaic : prevent, forbid which God defend that I should wring from him— Shakespeare
3 : to act as attorney for hired a lawyer to defend their son
4 law : to deny or oppose the right of a plaintiff in regard to (a suit or a wrong charged) : contest
5 : to retain or seek to retain (something, such as a title or position) against a challenge in a contest they successfully defended their championship

intransitive verb

1 : to take action against attack or challenge the defending champion
2 sports : to play or be on defense playing deep to defend against a pass
3 card games : to play against the high bidder

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Other Words from defend

defendable \ di-​ˈfen-​də-​bəl How to pronounce defendable (audio) \ adjective

Choose the Right Synonym for defend

defend, protect, shield, guard, safeguard mean to keep secure from danger or against attack. defend denotes warding off actual or threatened attack. defend the country protect implies the use of something (such as a covering) as a bar to the admission or impact of what may attack or injure. a hard hat to protect your head shield suggests protective intervention in imminent danger or actual attack. shielded her eyes from the sun with her hand guard implies protecting with vigilance and force against expected danger. White House entrances are well guarded safeguard implies taking precautionary protective measures against merely possible danger. our civil liberties must be safeguarded

synonyms see in addition maintain

defend, protect, and safeguard mean to keep safe. defend is used for a danger or an attack that is actual or threatening. The soldiers defended the fort against enemy troops. protect is used when some kind of shield can prevent possible attack or injury. Protect your eyes with dark glasses. safeguard is used when a course of action can protect against a possible danger. The health rules help safeguard the students from disease.

Examples of defend in a Sentence

The company must defend its own interests. We believed it was a cause worth defending. She defended her friend's behavior. Stop defending him. What he did was wrong.
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Recent Examples on the Web

Plenty more players are in the mix for the prestigious grass-court title, from two-time Wimbledon champion Rafael Nadal to rising star Stefanos Tsitsipas, from hard-hitting Naomi Osaka to the ever-steady defending champion Angelique Kerber. oregonlive.com, "Wimbledon TV schedule: Where and when to watch Roger Federer, Serena Williams and more every day," 30 June 2019 Its surprise elimination followed the men's team crashing out in the group stage at the Men's World Cup last year in Russia as the defending champion. Ravi Ubha, CNN, "Sweden stuns Germany at Women's World Cup as Dutch reach maiden semifinal," 29 June 2019 The investigation showed that the only true victim in this was the unborn baby.’’ Reid said the investigation also showed that Jemison was defending herself by shooting Jones. Tiffany Diane Tso, refinery29.com, "A Pregnant Woman Was Shot & Now She's Being Charged For Her Unborn Baby's Death," 28 June 2019 For almost three decades Ethiopia’s federal structure – enshrined in the country’s 1994 constitution – has been defended by the ruling coalition, the Ethiopian Peoples Revolutionary Democratic Front. Yohannes Gedamu, Quartz Africa, "The underlying tension behind Ethiopia’s flawed federal system and its risks," 26 June 2019 Those competing Sunday include defending champion Shelby Tyler of Noblesville in the women’s high jump and Cathedral’s Cole Hocker in the men’s 1,500. David Woods, Indianapolis Star, "Brebeuf's Semira Killebrew 3rd at U20 nationals, runs No. 2 Indiana time ever," 22 June 2019 In a statement, Marc Weller, a developer who is Plank’s partner in the project, defended the opportunity zone designation. Jeff Ernsthausen, ProPublica, "One Trump Tax Cut Was Meant to Help the Poor. A Billionaire Ended Up Winning Big.," 19 June 2019 In Louisiana civil courts, the poor are left to defend themselves Forty-seven states provide funding to help their most vulnerable citizens secure free legal assistance in civil matters. Richard A. Webster, nola.com, "Louisiana approves money for civil legal aid, joining most other U.S. states," 17 June 2019 Mr Biden as vice-president, spent eight years in the White House, and has already struggled a little in defending a political record that spans several decades. A.r. | Chicago, The Economist, "Joe Biden and Donald Trump trade insults in Iowa," 11 June 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'defend.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of defend

14th century, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1a

History and Etymology for defend

Middle English defenden, borrowed from Anglo-French & Latin; Anglo-French defendre, defender, going back to Latin dēfendere "to ward off, fend off, repel danger from, protect," from dē- de- + -fendere, presumably, "to strike, hit" (unattested without prefixes), going back to Indo-European *gwhen-dh-, extended determinate form of *gwhen-, *gwhn- "strike, kill," whence Hittite kuenzi "(s/he) kills," kunanzi "(they) kill," Sanskrit hánti "(s/he) strikes, kills," ghnánti "(they) strike, kill," Greek theínein "to strike," épethnon "(I) killed," Old Irish gonaid "(s/he) pierces, wounds, kills," Welsh gwan- "stab, pierce," Lithuanian genù, giñti "to drive (cattle, etc.)," Old Church Slavic ženǫ, gŭnati "to drive, chase out, expel"; also, from nominal derivative *gwhon-, Greek phónos "bloodshed, murder," and from *gwhń-tih2, Germanic *gunþī, *gunþjō, whence Old English gūþ "battle, combat," Old Saxon gūđea, Old Norse gunnr, guđr

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Learn More about defend

Statistics for defend

Last Updated

5 Jul 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for defend

The first known use of defend was in the 14th century

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More Definitions for defend

defend

verb

English Language Learners Definition of defend

: to fight in order to keep (someone or something) safe : to not allow a person or thing to hurt, damage, or destroy (someone or something)
: to fight or work hard in order to keep (something, such as a right, interest, cause, etc.) from being taken away
: to speak or write in support of (someone or something that is being challenged or criticized)

defend

verb
de·​fend | \ di-ˈfend How to pronounce defend (audio) \
defended; defending

Kids Definition of defend

1 : to protect from danger or attack
2 : to act or speak in favor of when others are opposed She defended her teacher against the class's complaints.
de·​fend

Legal Definition of defend

1 : to drive danger or attack away from using a weapon to defend oneself
2 : to act as attorney for (a defendant) appointed to defend the accused
3 : to deny or oppose the rights of a plaintiff in regard to (a suit or claim) intend to defend the case

intransitive verb

1 : to take action against attack or challenge not justified in striking first, but may defend
2 : to present a defense may not thereafter defend on grounds of insanity— W. R. LaFave and A. W. Scott, Jr.

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More from Merriam-Webster on defend

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with defend

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for defend

Spanish Central: Translation of defend

Nglish: Translation of defend for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of defend for Arabic Speakers

Comments on defend

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