verb de·fend \di-ˈfend\

Definition of defend

  1. transitive verb
  2. 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 (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>

  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 (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 (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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a principle or belief held by a group

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