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

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.
Recent Examples on the Web Frenkel said Tucker couldn’t reach agreement with the SEC on terms of a settlement and has decided to defend himself against the charges. Ron Hurtibise, Sun Sentinel, 14 Sep. 2022 According to prosecutors, German died with the defendant’s DNA under his fingernails after attempting to defend himself against the attack. John L. Smith, Rolling Stone, 8 Sep. 2022 But giving away your millions to train people to defend themselves against invasion and subjugation by an evil, murderous dictatorship? Jay Nordlinger, National Review, 2 Sep. 2022 Women prosecuted after pregnancy loss are often those least able to defend themselves, the investigation found. Cary Aspinwall, al, 1 Sep. 2022 Women prosecuted after pregnancy loss are often those least able to defend themselves, the investigation found. Amy Yurkanin, Washington Post, 1 Sep. 2022 After her indictment in 2020, the suit said, Maxwell asked the firm to defend her against criminal charges, saying Kevin Maxwell would handle payments and costs. Colin Moynihan, BostonGlobe.com, 26 Aug. 2022 Those liberal leanings have been harder to ignore in recent years, forcing the league to defend itself against claims of partisanship. Megan O’matz, ProPublica, 18 Aug. 2022 As Europe scrambles to defend itself against Russian aggressions, tiny Lithuania is reaping the benefit of cleareyed moves made more than a decade ago. Lenora Chu, The Christian Science Monitor, 15 Aug. 2022 See More

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.

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 High German gund-, Old Norse gunnr, guðr

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

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Last Updated

23 Sep 2022

Cite this Entry

“Defend.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/defend. Accessed 4 Oct. 2022.

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More Definitions for defend

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.

defend

transitive verb
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.

More from Merriam-Webster on defend

Nglish: Translation of defend for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of defend for Arabic Speakers

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