defensive

adjective
de·​fen·​sive | \ di-ˈfen(t)-siv How to pronounce defensive (audio) , ˈdē-ˌ 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

One of my other most memorable experiences was taking this defensive driving course. Cristina Goyanes, Marie Claire, "The Coolest Six-Figure Job You Never Thought You Wanted: Nannying," 14 Jan. 2019 The same can be said on the other side, with the Buckeyes losing all four key defensive linemen but returning DE Nick Bosa. Chris Solari, Detroit Free Press, "Michigan State football mailbag: How Spartans match up with Buckeyes," 2 July 2018 According to Sports Illustrated, he is now tied with former Niners and Cowboys defensive end Charles Haley for the most wins in any position. Megan Stein, Country Living, "How Many Super Bowls Has Tom Brady Won?," 3 Feb. 2019 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

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

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 In the 1995 NFL Draft, the Panthers traded up 10 spots to select Poole, a 5-foot-8 defensive back from Fort Valley State University, with the 22nd overall pick. Chapel Fowler, charlotteobserver, "Former Panther Tyrone Poole says you're like a spider. That can help you hang tough.," 30 May 2018 This offseason, Dan Enos came aboard to tutor the quarterbacks after receivers coach Mike Locksley, a former college defensive back, was promoted to the coordinator role when Daboll made a quick U-turn back to the NFL. Rainer Sabin, AL.com, "Why Alabama's QB development is set to kick into high gear," 25 Apr. 2018 Top prospect Lewis Cine, an elite defensive back, has already transferred from Everett to Trinity Christian School in Cedar Hill, Texas. Nate Weitzer, BostonGlobe.com, "Everett QB will transfer to Milton Academy," 9 Apr. 2018 Three plays later, Lawrence faced down a pass rush and slung a pass to Ross, who was alone after Alabama defensive back Saivion Smith went down with an apparent leg injury. Ralph D. Russo, The Seattle Times, "Orange Crush: Clemson topples No. 1 ‘Bama for national title," 8 Jan. 2019 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

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

12 Mar 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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