defensive

adjective
de·fen·sive | \di-ˈfen(t)-siv, ˈdē-ˌ \

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

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

Cincinnati Reds center fielder Billy Hamilton's defensive gems have become frequent contributors on baseball highlight reels. Dave Clark, Cincinnati.com, "Jim Riggleman: Billy Hamilton's latest defensive gem 'unbelievable'," 14 July 2018 And in middle school, the coaches introduced me to audibles and helped me in learning how to read (defensive) coverages. Rick Armstrong, Aurora Beacon-News, "Air apparent: Aurora Christian coaches grooming sophomore Ethan Hampton to power passing attack," 14 July 2018 Bournemouth’s pursuit of a new left back to reinforce Eddie Howe’s defensive options this summer took a hit as they were priced out of a move for first-choice target Kieran Tierney. SI.com, "Bournemouth Switch Attention to Leganes Full Back as Cherries Baulk at Kieran Tierney Asking Price," 13 July 2018 Davon Reed grabbed the defensive rebound, dribbled the ball up court and found Bridges at the three-point line. Keith Pompey, Philly.com, "Sixers beat Suns in summer league in first Zhaire Smith-Mikal Bridges matchup," 13 July 2018 From farms to boardrooms, decisions would turn from productivity and growth to market realignment and defensive strategy. Phillip Molnar, sandiegouniontribune.com, "Can the U.S. economy withstand a trade war?," 13 July 2018 Over time, the neural systems that support fear and defensive reactions become stronger, making these responses a child’s default. WSJ, "As Border Separations Drag, Kids Internalize the Dread," 13 July 2018 Allen, defensive line coach Mark Hagen and IU’s front six have done a commendable job baking a strong pass rush into the defense without the presence of one or two dynamic players carrying most of the load. Zach Osterman, Indianapolis Star, "Insider: 5 burning questions facing IU football in 2018," 12 July 2018 Ennis is considered an outstanding defensive wing who could bring the 3-point shooting to fit in the Rockets style. Jonathan Feigen, Houston Chronicle, "James Ennis agrees to 2-year deal with Rockets," 12 July 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

His teammate at Catholic Memorial, senior defensive back Hunter Tully of Taunton, attended camps at Boston College and Bentley University and also visited Dartmouth College, the University of New Hampshire, and Stonehill College. Jake Caccavaro, BostonGlobe.com, "For local football prospects, summer camp is serious stuff," 13 July 2018 On Tuesday, defensive back Jaquan Johnson was selected to the Athlon Sports preseason first-team All-American team. Shandel Richardson, Sun-Sentinel.com, "UM's Jaquan Johnson and Shaq Quarterman earn preseason All-American honors," 20 June 2018 Four-star defensive back Jeffery Carter and three-star wide receiver Monterren Parks have transferred out of Aledo, Bearcats head coach Steve Wood told the Star-Telegram. Brian Gosset, star-telegram, "Two of Aledo's top football players transferring," 19 June 2018 Valor honors: Washington defensive back Fred Obi was named Defensive Player of the Week for his performance against the Philadelphia Soul. baltimoresun.com, "Digest (June 13): Barry Trotz starts contract talks to return to Capitals," 13 June 2018 Kentucky defensive back Marcus Walker was arrested last Thursday and charged with trafficking of cocaine and marijuana. Ron Higgins, NOLA.com, "Georgia, Kentucky and Mississippi State take over the lead in the 2018 Golden Handcuffs," 28 May 2018 Also in Ohio football news this week, Hamilton ’18 defensive back Gabe Matthews was offered a preferred walk-on spot at Akron. John Snodgrass, Cincinnati.com, "Recruiting Trail: Chisholm headed to Dayton," 8 Jan. 2018 The team also will have to offset the the departure defensive back Darious Williams and linebacker Tevin Crews, two productive players. Iliana Limón Romero, OrlandoSentinel.com, "Revitalized UAB is No. 53 in 2018 preseason college football rankings," 5 July 2018 Hawthorne joins quarterback Sherdrick Bonner, receiver/linebacker Hunkie Cooper and wide receiver/defensive back Randy Gatewood from the Danny White coaching era to make the Rattlers' Ring of Honor. Richard Obert, azcentral, "Anttaj Hawthorne becomes 4th Arizona Rattler to enter Ring of Honor," 8 May 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

8 Oct 2018

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 \

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, ˈdē-ˌ \

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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evasion of direct action or statement

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