defend

verb
de·​fend | \di-ˈfend \

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 \ˈfen-​də-​bəl \ 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

It would be left to Lincoln to defend and reform the Union over which the three heirs to the founders had so long and so frustratingly contended—each born too early, or too late, to be truly transformative. Harold Holzer, WSJ, "‘Heirs of the Founders’ and ‘Henry Clay’ Review: Lions of the Senate," 16 Nov. 2018 The use of novel chemicals as weapons favors the evolution of ever more behaviorally and chemically defended pathogens and pests. Rob Dunn, Discover Magazine, "Our Attempts to Eradicate Insects are Just Making them Resistant to Pesticides," 16 Nov. 2018 Meanwhile, people defended Khloe Kardashian in the comments section. Alison Caporimo, Seventeen, "Here's Khloé Kardashian and Tristan Thompson's FULL Relationship Timeline," 26 July 2018 An electoral system that has its thumb on the scales, though, is harder to defend. The Economist, "America’s electoral system gives the Republicans advantages over Democrats," 12 July 2018 Now management seems to be in need of some bravery to defend the company’s long-term interests against a small band of employees who feel entitled to substitute their political hobby horses for their employer’s business priorities. Holman W. Jenkins, WSJ, "Google Confronts Its Bolsheviks," 13 Nov. 2018 Kardashian's responses defended her daughter against the onslaught of colorism. Rachel Nussbaum, Glamour, "Khloé Kardashian Calls Out Trolls For Deleting Their Comments About Baby True," 28 Sep. 2018 Will The Handmaid’s Tale defend its title as the year’s Outstanding Drama Series? Vogue, "How to Watch the 2018 Emmys Online," 14 Sep. 2018 Two other agents, Gregory Cavic and Gregory McKnight, were not under contract with CAA and have been in open court defending CAA's tortious interference claim. Eriq Gardner, The Hollywood Reporter, "CAA, UTA Headed to Second Arbitration Over "Lawless Midnight Raid"," 11 July 2018

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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Statistics for defend

Last Updated

6 Dec 2018

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 \
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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