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

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

protective, self-protective

Synonyms: Noun

guard

Antonyms: Adjective

offensive

Antonyms: Noun

offensive

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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

That was followed by a big deal for free agent defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh. Andrew Beaton, WSJ, "The Super Bowl of Opposites," 25 Jan. 2019 Braeden Bradforth, 19, a New Jersey native who was offered a scholarship to play at Garden City Community College, was set to play defensive tackle for the school, according to NJ.com. Ryan Gaydos, Fox News, "Kansas college football player dies after team's first practice of season," 6 Aug. 2018 Out west, the defensive tackle factory at Washington hasn’t stopped humming. Andy Staples, SI.com, "Like It or Not, College Football Is Influencing the NFL," 12 July 2018 New York Giants defensive tackle A.J. Francis says agents from the Transportation Safety Administration (TSA) spilled his late mother's ashes in his suitcase during an inspection of checked luggage before a flight. Christopher Brito, CBS News, "NFL player A.J. Francis says TSA agents spilled late mother's ashes inside luggage," 9 July 2018 Short, an East Chicago and Purdue graduate who’s entering his sixth season as a star defensive tackle for the Carolina Panthers, wore a broad smile. Michael Osipoff, Post-Tribune, "Carolina Panthers defensive tackle Kawann Short on youth camp: 'Giving back has always been in my heart'," 9 July 2018 The more versatile defensive players the Kings have, the better for the team come the regular season. Jason Jones, sacbee, "Harry Giles made his Kings debut during the California Classic. Here's how he fared," 2 July 2018 The 17-year-old from West Chester also saw time at defensive tackle. Rick O'brien, Philly.com, "Malvern Prep's Jake Hornibrook commits to play football at Stanford," 1 July 2018 Kendricks joins Wekiva defensive tackle Norell Pollard as one of the Hokies 13 commitments to their 2019 recruiting class. Chris Hays, OrlandoSentinel.com, "Virginia Tech taps Orlando-area pipeline; Osceola DL Mario Kendricks Jr. commits," 1 July 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Gordon entered Tuesday with a defensive runs saved (DRS) score of 9, which ranked seventh among all outfielders. Maria Torres, kansascity, "‘Fun-to-watch’ Mondesi continues to progress as Royals snap losing streak, beat Twins," 10 July 2018 His 10 defensive runs saved were 11th-most in the major leagues and ranked him fourth among all major-league shortstops. Todd Rosiak, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Brewers once again demote struggling shortstop Orlando Arcia," 1 July 2018 The next morning, Fangraphs had Dyson with eight defensive runs saved in 57 games. Mike Digiovanna, latimes.com, "Three up, three down: Steven Brault belts out anthem; Diamondbacks question defensive runs saved," 23 June 2018 But stats like defensive runs saves are available at sites like fangraphs.com. John Fay, Cincinnati.com, "Reds Xtra: You've got questions, Fay's got answers," 2 June 2018 Entering Wednesday night, the Phillies ranked last in the National League and second-to-last overall in defensive runs saved (minus-30), according to Baseball Info Solutions. Scott Lauber, Philly.com, "Hector Neris' slide from Phillies closer role began with overuse of his slider," 23 May 2018 As a group, the Padres outfield ranks 10th in defensive runs saved with four. Kevin Acee, sandiegouniontribune.com, "Padres notes: Outfield working to improve; cleanup pop; Lauer's moves," 23 May 2018 In just 38 games at first base last season, Olson notched four defensive runs saved. Susan Slusser, San Francisco Chronicle, "A’s Matt Olson is a force at first as well as at the plate," 9 Apr. 2018 Penn Charter running back-defensive back Edward Saydee also committed to Temple, where the versatile senior is expected to be a running back. Marc Narducci, Philly.com, "Temple adds three more football commitments," 22 June 2018

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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Statistics for defensive

Last Updated

23 Apr 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for defensive

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

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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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not to be persuaded, moved, or stopped

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