defense mechanism


Definition of defense mechanism

1 : an often unconscious mental process (such as repression) that makes possible compromise solutions to personal problems
2 : a defensive reaction by an organism

Examples of defense mechanism in a Sentence

She is projecting her anger on you as a defense mechanism. the cell's normal defense mechanisms against infection

Recent Examples on the Web

As a defense mechanism, an owner who knows how her phone works can prevent this by simply avoiding eye contact. Cyrus Farivar, Ars Technica, "How Face ID could be a game-changer for aggressive US border agents," 1 Oct. 2018 Certain flora produces them as a defense mechanism against fungi and insects. Zahra Barnes, SELF, "Beware of Phytophotodermatitis, The Weird Sun Reaction That Could Definitely Ruin Your Summer," 18 Aug. 2018 Douglas Guilbeault, Joshua Becker, and Damon Centola at the University of Pennsylvania set out to design an experiment that could test whether simple signals trip our mental defense mechanisms. Scott K. Johnson, Ars Technica, "Being reminded of your political bubble can stop you from breaking out," 3 Sep. 2018 Stress is one of evolution’s greatest tricks and our brain’s best defense mechanism. Jeff Stibel, USA TODAY, "How to use your brain to live a long life," 12 June 2018 Those dorsal spikes are a venomous defense mechanism. Howard Cohen, miamiherald, "Wanted dead, not alive: the lionfish. You can make $5,000 if you get rid of them," 20 June 2018 During his year and a half as President, Trump has waged a campaign to erode public trust in some of the country's most important institutions -- the Department of Justice and the FBI -- as a self-defense mechanism. Z. Byron Wolf, CNN, "Trump is winning his effort to demonize Mueller," 29 May 2018 The art of the non-answer was undoubtedly developed as a defense mechanism — and it was perfected by Derek Jeter during his tenure with the Yankees — but every now and again players break out of their clichés and actually say something interesting. New York Times, "N.B.A. Stars Talk a Good Game in the Playoffs," 24 Apr. 2018 Marlo uses sarcasm as a defense mechanism, but we, as viewers, keep getting a peek behind that mask, repeatedly. Michael O'sullivan,, "With her new movie 'Tully,' Diablo Cody delves into the dark side of parenting," 4 May 2018

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

1909, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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Time Traveler for defense mechanism

The first known use of defense mechanism was in 1909

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More Definitions for defense mechanism

defense mechanism


English Language Learners Definition of defense mechanism

: a process in the brain that makes you forget or ignore painful or disturbing thoughts, situations, etc.
: a reaction in your body that protects against disease or danger

defense mechanism


Medical Definition of defense mechanism

1 : an often unconscious mental process (as repression, projection, or sublimation) that makes possible compromise solutions to personal problems
2 : a defensive reaction by an organism

More from Merriam-Webster on defense mechanism Encyclopedia article about defense mechanism

Comments on defense mechanism

What made you want to look up defense mechanism? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


incapable of being surmounted or overcome

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