defensive

adjective
de·​fen·​sive | \ di-ˈfen(t)-siv How to pronounce defensive (audio) , ˈdē-ˌfen(t)- How to pronounce defensive (audio) \

Definition of defensive

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : serving to defend or protect defensive fortifications
2a : devoted to resisting or preventing aggression or attack defensive behavior He became defensive when I brought up his spending habits.
b sports : of or relating to the attempt to keep an opponent from scoring in a game or contest a player with good defensive skills made a brilliant defensive play also : of or relating to a team that is not in possession of the ball or puck a defensive lineman
3 card games
a : valuable in defensive play a defensive card in bridge
b : designed to keep an opponent from being the highest bidder a defensive bid

defensive

noun

Definition of defensive (Entry 2 of 2)

: a position serving to protect or defend : a defensive position
on the defensive
: in the state or condition of being prepared or required to defend against attack or criticism keeping his political opponent on the defensive

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Other Words from defensive

Adjective

defensively adverb
defensiveness noun

Synonyms & Antonyms for defensive

Synonyms: Adjective

Synonyms: Noun

Antonyms: Adjective

Antonyms: Noun

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Examples of defensive in a Sentence

Adjective The city began building a defensive wall around its borders. The government decided to join a defensive alliance with several other nations. I was surprised by his defensive reaction to my suggestion. There's no need to get so defensive. I was only making a suggestion. When we asked her about the mistakes, she became defensive. The coach has a strong defensive strategy. Noun their unexpectedly harsh words put him on the defensive
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Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective The position group that continues to project as the strength of the 2021 team is the defensive line. Eric Hansen, The Indianapolis Star, "Notre Dame at mid-spring: Surges by Houston Griffith, Cam Hart are needed signs of progress," 11 Apr. 2021 Much of that rushing defense success was fueled by a stout defensive line, but also by the fact that Lloyd was everywhere, finishing with 49 tackles, 10 of which went for a loss. Josh Newman, The Salt Lake Tribune, "Utah football returns Devin Lloyd, Nephi Sewell, but linebacker position could get even better once Ethan Calvert arrives," 9 Apr. 2021 Thomas had a breakout year on the Chiefs’ defensive line, earning first-team All-County honors after racking up 43 tackles and a team-best 16 tackles for loss. Adam Lichtenstein, sun-sentinel.com, "Woa! Seventy-two Broward and Palm Beach football players earn spots on Class 5A, 4A, 3A All-State football teams," 8 Apr. 2021 The Patriots could probably use another body in the middle of the defensive line, even after signing Lawrence Guy, Davon Godchaux, and Henry Anderson. BostonGlobe.com, "What if the Patriots don’t draft a QB? Here are other options for them at No. 15," 8 Apr. 2021 His first season at the helm of USC’s defensive line still yielded some impressive dividends. Ryan Kartje, Los Angeles Times, "USC is looking for hunters as they gather talent on defensive line," 8 Apr. 2021 Yes, remnants of Mike Maccagnan’s four-plus years as the New York Jets general manager still remain, including budding defensive-line star Quinnen Williams, the centerpiece of Maccagnan’s final draft class in 2019. J.p. Pelzman, Forbes, "After The Sam Darnold Trade, New York Jets General Manager Joe Douglas Is In The Spotlight As Draft Looms," 6 Apr. 2021 The two areas where Oregon has to replace starters are on the interior of the defensive line and boundary side of the secondary with Austin Faoliu, Jordon Scott, Deommodore Lenoir and Nick Pickett all off to the NFL. James Crepea | The Oregonian/oregonlive, oregonlive, "Turnovers top agenda as Tim DeRuyter installs his defense at Oregon," 5 Apr. 2021 Vallecilla and trialist Edgar Castillo should help buoy the defensive line in the meantime while Joseph-Claude Gyau agreed to permanently take the reins at right back. Pat Brennan, The Enquirer, "FC Cincinnati 2021 MLS preview: 'We have to earn respect'," 16 Apr. 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun The Afghanistan National Defense and Security Forces is already on the defensive against an ongoing Taliban offensive, and surely its position will worsen. The Editors, National Review, "Biden’s Risky Afghanistan Exit," 16 Apr. 2021 But more changes made to the bill on the House floor this week have them back on the defensive. London Gibson, The Indianapolis Star, "Amended bill puts more wetlands on the chopping block," 14 Apr. 2021 The 6-foot-2 1/2, 195-pound defensive back is rated the nation’s No. 51 overall prospect and the No. 3 safety, according to 247Sports, which projects him as a future NFL Day 2 draft pick. oregonlive, "Zion Branch, nation’s No. 3 safety, announces Oregon Ducks official visit," 8 Apr. 2021 There's a good chance, then, that Alabama's Patrick Surtain II will be the first defensive back off the board. Michael Middlehurst-schwartz, USA TODAY, "32 things we learned from 2021 NFL draft prospects' pro days," 2 Apr. 2021 These days, having a versatile defensive back to deploy against myriad passing schemes is critical. oregonlive, "NFL mock draft 2021 (3.0): San Francisco 49ers select a QB, but which one? Oregon’s Penei Sewell selected at No. 5 to the Bengals; trades and other predictions," 29 Mar. 2021 As the signature verification rate climbed, Democrats in California and across the country launched a defensive, seeking to tie organizers and supporters of the effort to the far-right wings of the Republican Party and the QAnon conspiracy. Meg Cunningham, ABC News, "Why are some Californians trying to recall Gov. Gavin Newsom and how does the process work?," 27 Mar. 2021 The Mavericks have the ninth-most efficient offense (113.8) and 23rd defensive (112.6). Star Tribune, "Timberwolves-Dallas game preview," 23 Mar. 2021 Cyrus Moore, a sophomore defensive back, teamed with Treveon Johnson, Keeton and Hamilton to run 1:27.46 in the 4x200 relay, the seventh-best time in the nation. Greg Riddle, Dallas News, "2021 track preview: Teams to watch, athletes to know and Duncanville’s pursuit of sprinting dominance," 20 Mar. 2021

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

Adjective

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Noun

circa 1585, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for defensive

Adjective

Middle English defensif, borrowed from Anglo-French, borrowed from Medieval Latin dēfensīvus, from Latin dēfensus, past participle of dēfendere "to ward off, defend" + -īvus -ive

Noun

Middle English defensif "something acting as protection," borrowed from Medieval Latin dēfensīvum, noun derivative from neuter of dēfensīvus defensive entry 1

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Time Traveler for defensive

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for defensive

Last Updated

19 Apr 2021

Cite this Entry

“Defensive.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/defensive. Accessed 20 Apr. 2021.

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More Definitions for defensive

defensive

adjective

English Language Learners Definition of defensive

: defending or protecting someone or something from attack : helping to keep a person or thing safe
: behaving in a way that shows that you feel people are criticizing you
sports : of or relating to the way that players try to stop an opponent from scoring in a game or contest

defensive

adjective
de·​fen·​sive | \ di-ˈfen-siv How to pronounce defensive (audio) \

Kids Definition of defensive

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : serving or meant to defend or protect a defensive structure
2 : relating to the attempt to keep an opponent from scoring a defensive play
3 : showing a dislike for criticism She got defensive about my suggestion.

Other Words from defensive

defensively adverb

defensive

noun

Kids Definition of defensive (Entry 2 of 2)

: a position or attitude that is meant to defend The criticism put him on the defensive.

defensive

adjective
de·​fen·​sive | \ di-ˈfen(t)-siv How to pronounce defensive (audio) , ˈdē-ˌ How to pronounce defensive (audio) \

Medical Definition of defensive

1 : serving to defend or protect (as the ego) face-saving is a common defensive reactionPsychology Today
2 : devoted to resisting or preventing aggression or attack defensive behavior

Other Words from defensive

defensively adverb
defensiveness noun

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defensive

adjective
de·​fen·​sive

Legal Definition of defensive

1 : serving to defend or as part of a defense a defensive pleading
2 : devoted to resisting or preventing aggressive actions a defensive recapitalization…to escape a takeover attempt— Barbara Franklin

Other Words from defensive

defensively adverb

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Comments on defensive

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