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

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from defensive

Adjective

defensively adverb
defensiveness noun

Synonyms & Antonyms for defensive

Synonyms: Adjective

Synonyms: Noun

Antonyms: Adjective

Antonyms: Noun

Visit the Thesaurus for More 

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
See More
Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective There’s defensive coordinator Robert Saleh, who has solidified himself as one of the league’s hottest names for head-coaching vacancies. Rusty Simmons, SFChronicle.com, "Arik Armstead might be unsung in NFL, but 49ers see his ‘incredible impact’," 29 Nov. 2019 But coach Herm Edwards and defensive coordinator Danny Gonzales have enlisted the help of the others — Joey Yellen and Ethan Long this week. Michelle Gardner, azcentral, "Territorial Cup: ASU uses three quarterbacks to get prepared for rival Arizona," 29 Nov. 2019 In fact, Breeze, who played at Central Catholic, too, was asked this season about the influence first-year Ducks’ defensive coordinator Andy Avalos has had on his development. oregonlive, "Canzano: A coach, a kid, and a whisper that cuts across the Civil War rivalry," 29 Nov. 2019 With Day as Ohio State’s offensive coordinator and Brown as Michigan’s defensive coordinator, Day did that last season in a 62-39 win as the Buckeyes piled up 567 yards against the defense statistically rated No. 1 in the nation. Doug Lesmerises, cleveland, "Ohio State’s game plan picked apart Michigan last year; now can Don Brown get revenge vs. Ryan Day?," 29 Nov. 2019 Bill Belichick said the shuffling hasn’t really altered Houston’s scheme and pointed to defensive coordinator Romeo Crennel’s flexibility as a strength. BostonGlobe.com, "Illness runs through Patriots locker room, sidelining eight at practice - The Boston Globe," 28 Nov. 2019 That is why Bears defensive coordinator Chuck Pagano blitzed near the end of the game after the Lions, down four, had reached the Bears’ 26-yard line with 41 seconds remaining and two timeouts left. Brad Biggs, chicagotribune.com, "Brad Biggs’ 10 thoughts on the Bears’ 24-20 win over the Lions," 28 Nov. 2019 He probably should have given Joe Fan, who also expressed skepticism about bringing defensive coordinator Todd Orlando from Houston, a little more credit. Mike Finger, ExpressNews.com, "Finger: For Cowboys’ Jason Garrett, Longhorns’ Tom Herman, smarts ceding to stubbornness," 27 Nov. 2019 Jeremy Douglas was the Wildcats defensive coordinator, while Benji Peacock served as the offensive coordinator. Emmett Hall, sun-sentinel.com, "Plantation Wildcats 9U club takes AYFL Super Bowl title," 26 Nov. 2019 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun The defensive plays led to four points in the final 12 seconds to carry Tech past the Seawolves, who led by 11 points with 10 minutes left in the game and by four points in the final minute. Anchorage Daily News, "Clutch plays in final minute carry Michigan Tech past UAA men’s basketball team," 30 Nov. 2019 The Dolphins have coached several players to play several roles in their secondary with fourth-year cornerback Eric Rowe and first-year nickel defensive back Jomal Wiltz transitioning to safety-type roles in coach Brian Flores’ defense. Safid Deen, sun-sentinel.com, "Dolphins make roster move to help depth before Sunday’s game vs. Eagles," 30 Nov. 2019 Rodjay Burns has had a terrific season since moving over from a defensive back this offseason. Cameron Teague Robinson, The Courier-Journal, "Louisville vs. Kentucky: Here's who has the advantage at each position for Governor's Cup," 29 Nov. 2019 Which takes us across the state to Top Taggart Field on the campus of Ferris State, where coach Tony Annese is running across the field during a practice, while talking trash to a defensive back. Jeff Seidel, Detroit Free Press, "The secret that ties Michigan's most successful college football team to Clemson," 28 Nov. 2019 The addition of cornerback Keion Crossen to the Texans' roster in August provided them with a versatile reserve defensive back and a special-teams contributor. Aaron Wilson, Houston Chronicle, "Texans' Bill O'Brien praises ex-Patriots corner Keion Crossen," 27 Nov. 2019 Jets safety Jamal Adams has five sacks in the last two games, giving him six for the season and two shy of the single-season record for a defensive back. Ryan O’halloran, The Denver Post, "Week 12 NFL Picks: Potential playoff preview when Packers visit 49ers," 23 Nov. 2019 Senior defensive back Corey Birdow boasts four of those picks, the most in the county. Megan Woodward, baltimoresun.com/maryland/carroll, "Football: Defense fueling Westminster’s run into state quarterfinals," 21 Nov. 2019 The drives sandwiched a positive defensive possession that featured a sack by Whittaker – the first of his career and the first by a UA defensive back this season. azcentral, "Changes don't help Arizona offense in loss to Oregon," 17 Nov. 2019

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.

See More

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about defensive

Time Traveler for defensive

Time Traveler

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

See more words from the same century

Statistics for defensive

Last Updated

3 Dec 2019

Cite this Entry

“Defensive.” The Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/defensive. Accessed 12 December 2019.

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for defensive

defensive

adjective
How to pronounce defensive (audio) How to pronounce defensive (audio)

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

Keep scrolling for more

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

Keep scrolling for more

Comments on defensive

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

WORD OF THE DAY

a period of high artistic development

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Semantic Drift Quiz

  • a twisty river
  • Which of the following was once a synonym for fun?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

TAKE THE QUIZ
Bee Cubed

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ
Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!