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

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Other Words from defend

defendable \ di-​ˈfen-​də-​bəl How to pronounce defend (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

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 In between paeans to the Second Amendment, opponents will tell the nation that their constituents want to have weapons on hand to defend themselves and their families from evildoers. Gail Collins New York Times, Star Tribune, "Ready to nag or be nagged about gun control?," 25 Feb. 2021 The principle, however, of having a means to defend yourself might have ended the terrifying situation much more quickly for the jogger. Tyler Freel, Outdoor Life, "“Whoa Bear. Get Outta Here.” How to Talk Your Way Out of a Dangerous Wildlife Encounter," 22 Feb. 2021 Zimmerman was ultimately acquitted in that case but spent $2.5 million to defend himself, and Florida lawmakers passed legislation similar to HB227 out of concern about this financial burden, the attorney said. The Salt Lake Tribune, "Utah lawmakers advance bill to keep self-defense shootings out of court," 22 Feb. 2021 Fifteen years later, the orator Andocides had to defend himself in court against accusations that he had been involved. Joshua P. Nudell, The Conversation, "An ancient Greek approach to risk and the lessons it can offer the modern world," 22 Feb. 2021 Julie Tarallo McAlister, a spokeswoman for Google, said in a statement that the company would defend itself against the claims. New York Times, "Big Tech’s Next Big Problem Could Come From People Like ‘Mr. Sweepy’," 16 Feb. 2021 However, Kirkconnell’s silence hasn't prevented the ostensible leader of the Bachelor Nation machine from jumping into high gear to defend her. Ariana Romero, refinery29.com, "The Bachelor Has Another Racism Controversy. Don’t Let Chris Harrison Tell You It’s Normal," 11 Feb. 2021 By hijacking the neural circuit that causes leg extension, the wasp removes the last barrier the roach might use to defend itself from a ghastly fate. Kenneth C. Catania, Scientific American, "The Epic, Absurdly Complex Battle between a Zombie Maker and Its Victim," 1 Feb. 2021 Some European officials, including Germany’s defense minister, have voiced misgivings about Mr. Macron’s promotion of European power, noting that Europe can’t defend itself without the U.S. James Marson, WSJ, "With New Aircraft Carrier, France Looks to Bolster Military Ties With U.S.," 23 Dec. 2020

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 *gwhń̥-tih2, Germanic *gunþī, *gunþjō, whence Old English gūþ "battle, combat," Old Saxon gūđea, Old Norse gunnr, guðr

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Time Traveler for defend

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for defend

Last Updated

3 Mar 2021

Cite this Entry

“Defend.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/defend. Accessed 7 Mar. 2021.

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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 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.

Choose the Right Synonym for defend

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.

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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