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

Keep scrolling for more

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.
See More

Recent Examples on the Web

In Defense of is a new House Beautiful column where interior designers defend sometimes unpopular design trends, styles, or items. Hadley Keller, House Beautiful, "Why You Should Paint All Your Floors White," 2 May 2019 This is a major problem if the embarked fighter force needs to help defend the America. Kyle Mizokami, Popular Mechanics, "The Navy and Marines Are Deploying a 'Lightning Carrier' to the Pacific," 2 May 2019 The chancellor of New York City schools testified for more than two hours at a City Council hearing Wednesday, staunchly defending the view that the admissions test for eight elite high schools must be abolished. Leslie Brody, WSJ, "New York City Chancellor Affirms Push to End Elite-Schools Test," 1 May 2019 In Defense of is a new House Beautiful column where interior designers defend sometimes unpopular design trends, styles, or items. Hadley Keller, House Beautiful, "Why You Should Be Skirting All Your Chairs," 19 Apr. 2019 The Hong Kong dollar is supposedly under attack, forcing the HKMA to defend it. John Greenwood And, WSJ, "A Lesson in the Virtue of a Stable Currency," 1 Apr. 2019 While the new artist sparked outrage amongst fans, her coach was quick to defend her with a passionate speech. Kelly O'sullivan, Country Living, "Kelly Clarkson Shocked Fans by Singing With a Controversial 'Voice' Star at Her Concert," 28 Jan. 2019 California's legislature passed a net neutrality law anyway and is defending it in court. Jon Brodkin, Ars Technica, "FCC forces California to drop plan for government fees on text messages," 17 Dec. 2018 An island commonwealth integrates an AI to defend itself against a worsening hurricane season. The Verge, "Better Worlds," 5 Dec. 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.

See More

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about defend

Statistics for defend

Last Updated

10 May 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for defend

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

See more words from the same century

Keep scrolling for more

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.

Keep scrolling for more

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

What made you want to look up defend? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).

WORD OF THE DAY

highly pertinent or appropriate

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Time Traveler Quiz: Which Word Came First?

  • time traveler quiz which word came first
  • Which came first?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

TAKE THE QUIZ
SCRABBLE® Sprint

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ
Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!