verb de·fend \di-ˈfend\

Definition of defend

  1. transitive verb
  2. 1a :  to drive danger or attack away from defend the castle from invadersb (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 thesisc sports :  to attempt to prevent an opponent from scoring at elects to defend the south goal

  3. 2 archaic :  prevent, forbid which God defend that I should wring from him — Shakespeare

  4. 3 :  to act as attorney for hired a lawyer to defend their son

  5. 4 law :  to deny or oppose the right of a plaintiff in regard to (a suit or a wrong charged) :  contest

  6. 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

  7. intransitive verb
  8. 1 :  to take action against attack or challenge the defending champion

  9. 2 sports :  to play or be on defense playing deep to defend against a pass

  10. 3 card games :  to play against the high bidder


play \ˈfen-də-bəl\ adjective

Examples of defend in a sentence

  1. The company must defend its own interests.

  2. We believed it was a cause worth defending.

  3. She defended her friend's behavior.

  4. Stop defending him. What he did was wrong.

Origin and Etymology of defend

Middle English, from Anglo-French defendre, from Latin defendere, from de- + -fendere to strike; akin to Old English gūth battle, war, Greek theinein to strike

First Known Use: 14th century

Synonym Discussion of 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 Defined for English Language Learners


verb de·fend \di-ˈfend\

Definition of defend for English Language Learners

  • : 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 Defined for Kids


verb de·fend \di-ˈfend\

Definition of defend for Students




  1. 1 :  to protect from danger or attack

  2. 2 :  to act or speak in favor of when others are opposed She defended her teacher against the class's complaints.

Law Dictionary


transitive verb de·fend

Legal Definition of defend

  1. 1 :  to drive danger or attack away from using a weapon to defend oneself

  2. 2 :  to act as attorney for (a defendant) appointed to defend the accused

  3. 3 :  to deny or oppose the rights of a plaintiff in regard to (a suit or claim) intend to defend the case

  4. intransitive verb
  5. 1 :  to take action against attack or challenge not justified in striking first, but may defend

  6. 2 :  to present a defense may not thereafter defend on grounds of insanity — W. R. LaFave and A. W. Scott, Jr.

Seen and Heard

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to cast off or become cast off

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