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

Thidapa Suwannapura was one shot back and defending champion I.K. Kim was three strokes behind. BostonGlobe.com, "Robert Rock takes two-shot lead at Scottish Open," 14 July 2018 Three-time champion Bernhard Langer (67), defending champion Scott McCarron (68), Kenny Perry (70) and Vijay Singh (67) were in a pack two strokes off the lead. Andrew Seligman, chicagotribune.com, "Scott Parel takes lead at Senior Players after 2 rounds at Exmoor," 13 July 2018 The county Law Department received approval from the County Council to hire outside legal counsel to defend the lawsuit at the Circuit Court level, as well as authorization to spend up to $500,000 on its defense. Allan Vought, The Aegis, "Judge turns down Harford's request to waive bond in $45 million rubblefill judgment appeal," 12 July 2018 Oliver, the two-time defending champion, seems like a slam dunk to return as a nominee, at the very least. Scott Feinberg, The Hollywood Reporter, "Emmys: Battle Among Late-Night Talk Hosts Should Make for Morning's Most Suspenseful Reveal," 11 July 2018 Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer, along with five-time Western & Southern finalist Novak Djokovic and defending champion Grigor Dimitrov are committed to this year's tournament in Mason, officials announced Thursday. Patrick Brennan, Cincinnati.com, "Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, defending champion Grigor Dimitrov headline men's field at Western & Southern Open," 11 July 2018 The other matchups see defending champion Roger Federer against Kevin Anderson; Novak Djokovic takes on Kei Nishikori and Milos Raonic meets John Isner in a matchup of big servers. Sam Johnston, The Seattle Times, "Del Potro faces challenges on return to Wimbledon quarters," 10 July 2018 When the race entered the second overtime following the night’s final wreck, defending Cup Series champion Martin Truex Jr. appeared in command. Edgar Thompson, OrlandoSentinel.com, "Emotion-filled 22-year-old Erik Jones captures chaotic Coke Zero Sugar 400," 9 July 2018 This year’s pre-race nausea concerns the race’s defending champion, four-time winner Christopher Froome. Jason Gay, WSJ, "Ugh: Another Queasy Tour de France," 5 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

11 Oct 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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