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 Luker has been a defensive coach throughout his career. Ben Thomas | Bthomas@al.com, al, "McKenzie High turns to familiar coaching name to turn program around," 20 Mar. 2020 Marinelli joined the Raiders as defensive line coach this offseason. Jori Epstein, USA TODAY, "Dallas Cowboys mainstay Jason Witten departs to join Las Vegas Raiders, per reports," 17 Mar. 2020 Houston Texans defensive end J.J. Watt and his wife, Chicago Red Stars' Kealia Ohai, donated $350,000 to the Houston Food Bank, in order to aid relief efforts, according to CBS affiliate KHOU-TV. Chevaz Clarke, CBS News, "Ryan Reynolds and Blake Lively donate $1 million to North American food banks," 17 Mar. 2020 By using drone swarms, the U.S. hopes to overwhelm defensive systems. Alex Hollings, Popular Mechanics, "This Experimental Drone Could Change America's War Strategy," 17 Mar. 2020 In the Spygate case, Belichick was fined $500,000, the Patriots $250,000, and the team was docked a first-round draft pick after the NFL ruled the Patriots had improperly videotaped New York Jets defensive coaches signalling plays. Bob Hohler, BostonGlobe.com, "Red Sox lawyers argue team should not be held liable for alleged electronic sign-stealing," 26 Feb. 2020 Cincinnati Enquirer Luke Fickell didn't have to go far to find Cincinnati football's new defensive line coach. Fletcher Page, Cincinnati.com, "Cincinnati football: Luke Fickell promotes ex-St. Xavier star Greg Scruggs as d-line coach," 24 Feb. 2020 The Express-News has submitted open records requests for the Longhorns’ other new assistant hirings: wide receivers coach Andre Coleman, defensive line coach Mark Hagen and cornerbacks coach Jay Valai. Nick Moyle, ExpressNews.com, "Longhorns notebook: OC Mike Yurcich eager to work with QB Sam Ehlinger," 23 Feb. 2020 Her father, Steven Shackelford, had been his high school defensive coach. Michael Powell, New York Times, "He Was Fearless on a Football Field. But He Sensed Something Wasn’t Right.," 13 Feb. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Fellow defensive back Clayton Fejedelem signed with the Miami Dolphins on Monday. Dave Clark, Cincinnati.com, "Reactions: Darqueze Dennard reaches three-year deal with Jaguars, per reports," 17 Mar. 2020 The former Duncanville standout was a two-way player as a running back and defensive back in high school. Brett Vito, Denton Record-Chronicle, "Football: North Texas running back outlook for 2020: The Mean Green are loaded again," 20 Feb. 2020 However, previously recorded remarks by the former New York City mayor regarding how his administration used the policy to profile individuals by race surfaced last week, putting the candidate further on the defensive and apologizing for the policy. Kerry Picket, Washington Examiner, "Giuliani slams Bloomberg over stop-and-frisk policy: He let it get 'out of control'," 16 Feb. 2020 USA TODAY Sports Nate Davis breaks down the top defensive back prospects at the NFL draft combine. Chris Bumbaca, USA TODAY, "Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes says he 'didn't understand how to read defenses' until last year," 6 Mar. 2020 Senior defensive back Eugene Robinson represented Hightower on the 5A honorable mention list, recording 22 tackles, five interceptions, seven pass breakups and two fumble recoveries for a 6-5 playoff team. Jack Marrion, Houston Chronicle, "Fort Bend area standouts earn TXSWA all-state honors," 25 Feb. 2020 The attacks on Bloomberg had a side benefit for one candidate on stage -- current front-runner Bernie Sanders, who took some fire early on but never was truly put on the defensive during the debate. Craig Gordon, Bloomberg.com, "Bloomberg Hammered, Warren Shines and Sanders Dodges Trouble," 20 Feb. 2020 The 50-year-old assistant coach is a former NFL defensive back. Tyler Dragon, Cincinnati.com, "Cincinnati Bengals announce Steve Jackson as secondary coach," 20 Jan. 2020 Gowdy was a standout wide receiver and defensive back for Deerfield Beach High School. Christopher Brito, CBS News, "Mother of Georgia Tech recruit gives tearful account of days leading up to his suicide," 2 Jan. 2020

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

25 Mar 2020

Cite this Entry

“Defensive.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/defensive. Accessed 28 Mar. 2020.

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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

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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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