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 Rachel suggests that Ben shut down as a defense mechanism. Lia Beck,, "Bachelorette Season 16, Episode 12 Recap: Farewell, Fantasy," 21 Dec. 2020 The team also found that the defense mechanism continued for days after an attack even if the hornets did not return. Ryan W. Miller, USA TODAY, "Can animal poop ward off 'murder' hornets? It helps these honey bees defend against their giant predator.," 10 Dec. 2020 Tourist guides say, with a flourish, that the metal rings were a defense mechanism against tigers who went for the neck. New York Times, "As Refugees, Their Options Were Limited. Others Saw a Profit.," 5 Dec. 2020 Find out more about the hawkmoth’s NSFW defense mechanism by listening to this week’s episode. Popsci Staff, Popular Science, "Carrots were once a crucial tool in anti-Nazi propaganda," 6 May 2020 But instead of ejecting evil spirits from their body, the creatures puke their guts out as a defense mechanism. Corryn Wetzel, Smithsonian Magazine, "14 Fun Facts About Frightening Animals," 30 Oct. 2020 The receptors Bellono tested are sensitive to several terpenoids, molecules produced by many marine invertebrates as a defense mechanism. Sara Harrison, Wired, "How Octopuses Use Their Suction Cups to Taste Through Touch," 29 Oct. 2020 For the date itself, Jason and Clare take a stroll down to a campfire and talk about humor as a defense mechanism. Kristen Baldwin,, "The Bachelorette recap: Love language barrier," 21 Oct. 2020 The kind that with a turn of the head became a self-defense mechanism. The Salt Lake Tribune, "Brodi Ashton: The connection between my bangs and politics. Really.," 17 Oct. 2020

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

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The first known use of defense mechanism was in 1909

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Statistics for defense mechanism

Last Updated

6 Jan 2021

Cite this Entry

“Defense mechanism.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 16 Jan. 2021.

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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

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