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

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 Even far-flung races like Mike Espy’s challenge to Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith in Mississippi are commanding attention and suddenly costing Republicans money to defend. Lisa Mascaro, Anchorage Daily News, "McConnell works to salvage Senate majority with Supreme Court justice confirmation," 10 Oct. 2020 Browns coach Kevin Stefanski has always liked to use rollouts and bootlegs, something Indianapolis has been asked to defend a lot the past three weeks. Joel A. Erickson, The Indianapolis Star, "Insider: 32 things to watch in Colts-Browns showdown," 10 Oct. 2020 The central-bank chief has already been forced to defend his institution publicly over media reports claiming the work culture under his leadership discriminates against women. Catherine Bosley, Bloomberg.com, "Swiss Central Bank Faces Crunch Talks on Work Culture Crisis," 9 Oct. 2020 Even far-flung races like Mike Espy's challenge to Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith in Mississippi are commanding attention and suddenly costing Republicans money to defend. Lisa Mascaro, Star Tribune, "McConnell tries to salvage Senate majority with court vote," 9 Oct. 2020 Anthony Fauci, the chief scientific adviser in the U.S., was adamant in the spring that a lockdown was necessary and continues to defend the policy. Matt Ridley, WSJ, "What the Pandemic Has Taught Us About Science," 9 Oct. 2020 For example, his show presents a depiction by Velázquez of the Virgin Mary, painted around 1618 to defend the doctrine that she was conceived without sin. The Economist, "The National Gallery offers a powerful but partial view of transgression," 7 Oct. 2020 Reports of people resisting evacuation orders to defend their homes and other structures have become increasingly common. Nora Mishanec, SFChronicle.com, "Cal Fire opens investigation into private firefighting activities in Glass Fire," 7 Oct. 2020 Democrats need to gain three to four seats for a Senate majority in the next Congress, as Republicans defend 23 seats to the Democrats' 12 seats. Naomi Lim, Washington Examiner, "Democrats optimistic about winning Senate majority despite diminished chances in Texas race," 24 Sep. 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

16 Oct 2020

Cite this Entry

“Defend.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/defend. Accessed 27 Oct. 2020.

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More Definitions for defend

defend

verb
How to pronounce defend (audio)

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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