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 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.
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Recent Examples on the Web

Amazon defended its decision to cut ties with Allen in April in a response to his lawsuit. Alexia Fernandez, PEOPLE.com, "Woody Allen Has a New Film in the Works Starring Christoph Waltz and Gina Gershon," 4 June 2019 Jean Evans, a former state lawmaker serving as executive director of the Missouri Republican Party, took to Twitter to defend the governor Tuesday afternoon. Jason Hancock, kansascity, "Missouri’s new abortion ban has Nicole Galloway leaning toward campaign for governor," 4 June 2019 As for Beckham, for most of the voluntary program over the past few months, Kitchens defended Beckham’s decision to skip most of it. Mary Kay Cabot, cleveland.com, "Duke Johnson and Odell Beckham Jr. reported for minicamp today," 3 June 2019 Les Moulins was defended by two German strong points with concrete bunkers, a 50 mm cannon, machine guns, mortars and revolving tank turrets, according to historian Peter Caddick-Adams. The Washington Post, al.com, "D-Day veteran wonders why he lived when so many others died," 3 June 2019 Rather than wait until after the global quadrennial, the defending World Cup champions chose the run-up to the tournament to pick up a megaphone and shout, via a 25-page legal complaint, that they are being treated unfairly because of their gender. Liz Clarke, courant.com, "USWNT fights for equal pay as it fights to defend World Cup title," 3 June 2019 The exercise was designed to show the country’s determination to defend itself from armed attack, particularly from China. Kyle Mizokami, Popular Mechanics, "Taiwan Converts Highway Into a Jet Fighter Runway," 30 May 2019 Here come the Men in Black, back after a seven-year hiatus, and the (new) cast gets a slick new ride from Lexus to help defend Earth from extraterrestrial violence. Drew Dorian, Car and Driver, "The Lexus RC F Is the Ride of Choice for the Men in Black in Their Newest Movie," 29 May 2019 My friends and family would try to defend me on social media. De Elizabeth, Glamour, "For The Bachelor Contestants, Is Finding Love and Spon-Con Deals Worth the Trolls?," 9 May 2019

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

7 Jun 2019

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 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.

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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

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