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, 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

But some experts believe that in addition to signaling hormonal shifts, morning sickness may offer some kind of defensive effect against pregnancy complications like miscarriage and preterm labor. Korin Miller, SELF, "Is It True That Morning Sickness Means Something Good During Pregnancy?," 10 Jan. 2019 The emails made the Women’s March look clumsy and defensive at a time when the organization was already receiving widespread opprobrium. Anna North, Vox, "The Women’s March changed the American left. Now anti-Semitism allegations threaten the group’s future.," 21 Dec. 2018 Uber uses track testing to not only test against common road scenarios, but also edge cases with the goal of training the vehicle to become a generally good defensive driver. Andrew J. Hawkins, The Verge, "Uber’s self-driving cars return to public roads for the first time since fatal crash," 20 Dec. 2018 The Pentagon has always called the joint exercises defensive in nature. Fox News, "2 more training exercises with South Korea suspended indefinitely," 2 Oct. 2018 But the defensive line has veterans like Nile Sykes, Jacob Robinson and Mike Barwick still setting the standard at the top. Zach Osterman, Indianapolis Star, "Insider: 5 burning questions facing IU football in 2018," 12 July 2018 They were forced into a defensive position, while a group that was leading the advance for them also came under fire that resulted in several casualties. Paige Cornwell, The Seattle Times, "‘We all might have died out there’: Former Puyallup resident receives Medal of Honor for valor in Afghanistan," 1 Oct. 2018 The Leicester City centre back has impressed during England's stint at the World Cup so far, often carrying the ball from a defensive position to an attacking one. SI.com, "Cesc Fabregas Gives His Opinion on Leicester Star Harry Maguire at the World Cup," 6 July 2018 The offense is a bonus from a premium defensive position such as catcher. Paul Johnson, Naperville Sun, "Not-so-tiny Tim: Standout defensive catcher Tim Susnara heats up at the plate for Kane County Cougars," 3 July 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

That’s a tall order at a time when Amazon’s entry into the $860 billion grocery business, with the 2017 acquisition of Whole Foods, has utterly rewritten the rules of grocery retailing and put traditional players on the defensive. Paul Roberts, The Seattle Times, "Kroger hopes Redmond QFC pilot with Microsoft will make it ‘retailer of the future’," 7 Jan. 2019 Democracy remains on the defensive, and 2019 will be a time of testing, not least in the U.S., where oversight by a new congressional majority will reinforce the efforts of special counsel Robert Mueller. William A. Galston, WSJ, "Democracy Could Bounce Back in 2019," 31 Dec. 2018 As more nation’s militaries become increasingly capable in space, the U.S. finds itself on the defensive in orbit. Joe Pappalardo, Popular Mechanics, "USAF's Next-Gen GPS Satellites Will Be a Huge Upgrade...Eventually," 26 Dec. 2018 Some players, such as Philadelphia defensive back Malcolm Jenkins, stopped protesting after the talks from that session led to a social justice partnership between players and owners. Andrew Beaton, WSJ, "The Outspoken Voice of the NFL Player Protests—and It Isn’t Colin Kaepernick," 13 Nov. 2018 These abilities range from the offensive, like a powerful cluster grenade; to the defensive, like a massive anti-personnel shield; plus additional supportive abilities, like the ability to create a new spawn point for your team as well. Julie Muncy, Ars Technica, "Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 review: War games, now with battle royale!," 19 Oct. 2018 Purdue quarterback David Blough, Syracuse quarterback Eric Dungey, Virginia Tech defensive back Caleb Farley, Tennessee Tech linebacker Josh Poplar, Ohio Northern linebacker Sam Shook and Washburn linebacker Austin Tillman were honorable mentions. Ralph D. Russo, The Seattle Times, "Dixon, Simmer, Wimbush win Comeback Player of Year honors," 18 Dec. 2018 Of course, Marrero, a career .196 hitter over parts of four big-league seasons, would love to lose the defensive-specialist tag. Harvey Fialkov, azcentral, "Diamondbacks' Torey Lovullo a big fan of Deven Marrero's defensive ability," 27 June 2018 Deutsche Bank is again on the defensive, facing new legal threats and persistent doubts about its ability to make money. Jenny Strasburg, WSJ, "Deutsche Bank Defends Itself With Stock Near All-Time Low," 6 Dec. 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

15 Jan 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 \

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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