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 Chiney noticed the man approach them and briefly moved to defend herself and Nneka. Andrew Joseph, For The Win, "Fan at LA Sparks playoff game tackled after running onto the court with object in his hand," 15 Sep. 2019 For those who would defend them, steely self-criticism may be more effective than outrage. The Economist, "A full-court press," 14 Sep. 2019 Boxing: Baltimore’s Franchon Crews-Dezurn (5-1, 2 KOs) will defend her WBC super middleweight title against Alejandra Jimenez (12-0-1, 9 Ks) on Saturday night in Carson, California. Baltimore Sun Staff, baltimoresun.com, "Poly’s Marquise O’Neal named Ravens High School Coach of the Week," 12 Sep. 2019 As pressure has mounted amid global troubles and signs of an economic slowdown at home, Trump has increasingly favored aides who are willing to defend him on television. Deb Riechmann, Twin Cities, "Trump ousts hawkish Bolton, dissenter on foreign policy," 10 Sep. 2019 Online trolls had a lot to say, but her loyal fans were quick to defend her. Kayla Keegan, Good Housekeeping, "'The Talk' Fans Defend Sharon Osbourne After She Reveals Her New Facelift on the Season 10 Premiere," 10 Sep. 2019 Three electric organs make up 80 percent of their body and emit electric pulses that can be weak (to communicate and navigate) or forceful (to hunt or defend themselves). Lila Thulin, Smithsonian, "Smithsonian Researchers Triple the Number of Electric Eel Species, Including One With Record-Setting Shock Ability," 10 Sep. 2019 The event is headlined by Khabib Nurmagomedov (27-0) defending his UFC lightweight title against interim champion Dustin Poirier (25-5, 1 NC). Todd Martin, Los Angeles Times, "UFC 242 live updates: Khabib Nurmagomedov vs. Dustin Poirier," 7 Sep. 2019 But, even unable to defend her title, this year’s tournament will be remembered for Osaka. Ann Killion, SFChronicle.com, "U.S. Open: Naomi Osaka, Coco Gauff showed that women’s game is in good hands," 2 Sep. 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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Learn More about defend

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

25 Oct 2019

Cite this Entry

“Defend.” The Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/defends. Accessed 21 November 2019.

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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.
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

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for defend

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with defend

Spanish Central: Translation of defend

Nglish: Translation of defend for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of defend for Arabic Speakers

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