defense

noun
de·​fense | \ di-ˈfen(t)s How to pronounce defense (audio) ; as antonym of "offense" often ˈdē-ˌfen(t)s How to pronounce defense (audio) \

Definition of defense

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1a : the act or action of defending the defense of our country speak out in defense of justice quickly jumped to her friend's defense
b law : the denial, answer, or plea (see plea sense 2b) of one against whom a criminal or civil action is brought : a defendant 's denial, answer, or plea
2a : capability of resisting attack the body's defense against disease
b sports : ability to keep an opponent from scoring in a game or contest : defensive play or ability a player known for good defense
3a : means or method of defending or protecting oneself, one's team, or another the nation's air and ground defenses Big shells are an effective defense against these predators as well.— Gregory P. Dietl also : a defensive structure
b : an argument in support or justification offered no defense of his actions
c law : the collected facts and method adopted by a defendant to protect and defend against a plaintiff's action His lawyers used an insanity defense.
d chess : a sequence of moves available to the second player in the opening (see opening sense 3a)
4a law : a defending party or group (as in a court of law) The defense rests.
b sports : a defensive team He was the linchpin of one of the league's stoutest defenses— Sarah Kwak
5 government : the military and industrial aggregate that authorizes and supervises arms production appropriations for defense defense contract

defense

verb
defensed; defensing

Definition of defense (Entry 2 of 2)

transitive verb

sports
: to take specific defensive action against (an opposing team or player or an offensive play) : to attempt to keep (an opponent or play) from scoring in a game or contest The gangly Pressey was clearly Milwaukee's only real hope of defensing Bird …— Jack McCallum

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Other Words from defense

Noun

defenseless \ di-​ˈfen(t)s-​ləs How to pronounce defense (audio) \ adjective
defenselessly adverb
defenselessness noun

Examples of defense in a Sentence

Noun They put up a good defense, but the city ultimately fell to the invaders. They mounted a good defense. The city's defenses were not strong enough to keep out the invaders. We need to improve our defenses. the nation's air and ground defenses
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Last Thursday on New Year’s Eve, in one recent example, all but five Senate Democrats and Independent Bernie Sanders voted to squash a debate about $2,000 survival checks for the sake of passing a $740 billion defense authorization bill. Kate Aronoff, The New Republic, "The Bungled Vaccine Rollout Is a Bad Omen," 4 Jan. 2021 With Wolford, the Rams’ NFL-best defense plays with more rest, less angst and better field position. Bill Plaschke, Los Angeles Times, "Column: Rams need to stick with John Wolford and start him in playoffs," 3 Jan. 2021 The Volunteers owned the nation’s best defense entering Saturday, allowing only 52.7 points per game. Mike Rodak | Mrodak@al.com, al, "Alabama upsets No. 7 Tennessee, 71-63, in key SEC road win," 3 Jan. 2021 The trade for Adams and Eric Bledsoe signaled that their goal was to win with defense and sound fundamentals. Christian Clark, NOLA.com, "Brandon Ingram is the Pelicans' go-to guy — and right now, their best player," 3 Jan. 2021 Getting pressure on Rudolph will be key for a Browns’ defense without Denzel Ward, Kevin Johnson, B.J. Goodson, Malcolm Smith and Andrew Sendejo. Scott Patsko, cleveland, "Can the Browns regain their offensive balance vs. the Steelers? 3 Quick Pregame Thoughts," 3 Jan. 2021 The Seahawks’ defense is playing at a championship level. oregonlive, "Seattle Seahawks rally for a win over the San Francisco 49ers: 10 studs and duds," 3 Jan. 2021 State’s defense prevented Lawrence from matching Fields. Laine Higgins, WSJ, "Ohio State Stuns Clemson, Setting Up Title Showdown With Alabama," 2 Jan. 2021 Shortly before halftime, Golden State trimmed its deficit to single digits, only to again be undone by lazy closeouts, ball-watching and questionable help-side defense. Connor Letourneau, SFChronicle.com, "Porous 3-point defense dooms Warriors in blowout loss to Trail Blazers," 2 Jan. 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Rivers isn’t the only quarterback picking apart this Raiders defense down the stretch, however: Las Vegas has given up 150 points in its past four games, with Guenther’s unit yielding an average of 399 yards per game in that stretch. Greg Beacham, SFChronicle.com, "Defenseless Raiders routed by Colts; coordinator Paul Guenther fired," 13 Dec. 2020 The Broncos provided the middling Raiders defense its best fantasy performance of the season and helped the Saints DST continue a double-digit streak. Phil Thompson, chicagotribune.com, "Fantasy football lineups for Week 13: Start Kirk Cousins and sit Tyler Boyd," 3 Dec. 2020 Lamb’s selection means the club won’t take another receiver over the next two days and tilts the balance to defense the rest of the way. David Moore, Dallas News, "When presented with a decision they didn’t expect, the Cowboys chose offense and CeeDee Lamb," 23 Apr. 2020 The Rams would get the ball back but against the vaunted Packer defense their chances were slim. Los Angeles Times, "The Sports Report: Can Jared Goff lead the Rams to a Super Bowl title?," 15 Aug. 2019 Teixeira did not testify and defense attorney Steve Sack presented no witnesses. John Bacon, USA TODAY, "Concierge denies killing Boston doctors, says he was having affair with victim," 10 Dec. 2019 Let’s say there was a U.S.-Israel defense pact in place on June 5, 1967 or June 7, 1981 or Sept. 6, 2007. Gilead Sher, Time, "Netanyahu's Defense Treaty with Trump Is a Bad Idea. Just as Well It's Only a Gimmick," 16 Sep. 2019 Current law projects that defense spending will decline as a share of GDP, from a very low 3.1% now to about 2.5% over the next 10 years. WSJ, "Four Decades of Economic Wisdom From Martin Feldstein," 12 June 2019 These are some of the questions that defense attorneys asked a Yale University student who brought a rape complaint against her classmate. Katie Reilly, Time, "A Yale Student Accused Her Classmate of Rape. His Lawyers Asked What She Was Wearing and How Much She Drank," 9 Mar. 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'defense.' 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 defense

Noun

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

Verb

1932, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for defense

Noun

Middle English defense, defence, borrowed from Anglo-French defens, defense, defence, borrowed from Medieval Latin dēfensa, dēfensum (Late Latin dēfensa "vengeance"), nominal derivatives from feminine and neuter of Latin dēfensus, past participle of dēfendere "to ward off, defend"

Verb

derivative of defense entry 1

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Time Traveler for defense

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for defense

Last Updated

8 Jan 2021

Cite this Entry

“Defense.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/defense. Accessed 16 Jan. 2021.

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More Definitions for defense

defense

noun
How to pronounce defense (audio) How to pronounce defense (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of defense

: the act of defending someone or something from attack
: something that is used to protect yourself, your country, etc.
: the act of speaking or writing in support of someone or something that is being attacked or criticized

defense

noun
de·​fense | \ di-ˈfens How to pronounce defense (audio) \

Kids Definition of defense

1 : the act of protecting or defending They were defeated in spite of a brave defense.
2 : something that defends or protects … sneaking out to spy on him was not much of a defense against his treachery.— Lemony Snicket, The Austere Academy
3 : the players on a team who try to stop the other team from scoring

Other Words from defense

defenseless \ -​ləs \ adjective

defense

noun
de·​fense
variants: or chiefly British defence \ di-​ˈfen(t)s How to pronounce defense (audio) \

Medical Definition of defense

: a means or method of protecting the physical or functional integrity of body or mind ability to concentrate urine may be interpreted as a renal defense of body volume fluid— Jack Metcoff

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defense

noun
de·​fense | \ di-ˈfens, ˈdē-ˌfens How to pronounce defense (audio) \

Legal Definition of defense

1 : the act or action of defending — see also self-defense
2a : the theory or ground that forms the basis for a defendant's opposition to an allegation in a complaint or to a charge in a charging instrument (as an indictment) also : the evidence and arguments presented supporting the defendant's opposition — see also accord, alibi, assumption of risk, coercion, consent, contributory negligence at negligence, denial, diminished capacity, duress, entrapment, estoppel, fraud, infancy, insanity, intoxication, laches, mistake, necessity, res judicata, statute of limitations
absolute defense
: complete defense in this entry
affirmative defense
: a defense that does not deny the truth of the allegations against the defendant but gives some other reason (as insanity, assumption of risk, or expiration of the statute of limitations) why the defendant cannot be held liable

Note: The defendant bears the burden of proof as to affirmative defenses.

choice of evils defense
: a defense to a criminal charge based on the assertion that the criminal act was committed to avoid the commission of an even greater evil

called also lesser evils defense

Note: In jurisdictions that recognize the choice of evils defense, it encompasses both of the older defenses of duress and necessity.

complete defense
: a defense that shields the defendant from any liability and bars any recovery by the plaintiff — compare partial defense in this entry
lesser evils defense
: choice of evils defense in this entry
meritorious defense
: a defense that is based on evidence sufficient to warrant setting aside a default judgment against the defendant in civil litigation
partial defense
: a defense by which the defendant reduces the amount of damages of which he or she is liable — compare complete defense in this entry
b : a basis upon which an obligor of a negotiable instrument may avoid liability under the instrument
personal defense
: a defense of an obligor under a negotiable instrument that can be asserted against anyone but a holder in due course
real defense
: a defense of an obligor of a negotiable instrument that may be asserted even against a holder in due course

Note: Section 3-305(a)(1) of the Uniform Commercial Code sets out the real defenses as infancy, duress, lack of legal capacity, illegality of the transaction, fraud in the factum, and discharge of the obligor by a bankruptcy court. By exclusion, all other defenses are personal defenses.

3 : the defending side in a legal proceeding the defense rests — compare prosecution

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