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

The reports noted that Joiner, as a junior player, led all of UF’s defensive backs with 59 tackles. BostonGlobe.com, "Ex-college teammate of Aaron Hernandez charged with murder in wife’s 2016 death," 10 June 2019 The reports noted that Joiner, as a junior player, led all of UF's defensive backs with 59 tackles. Fox News, "Ex-Florida player charged with murder in wife's 2016 death," 10 June 2019 The Browns are likely to start five defensive backs and two linebackers. Terry Pluto, cleveland.com, "Cleveland Browns: Talkin’ Duke Johnson’s demand and the rise of Greedy Williams – Terry Pluto," 9 June 2019 Cooper began preying on defensive backs in the Dallas locker room last season. Jori Epstein, USA TODAY, "'Three steps ahead': How Cowboys' Amari Cooper leverages chess, Rubik’s Cube to outwit defenders," 9 June 2019 Several good players are entering the primes of their careers — end Danielle Hunter, defensive backs Xavier Rhodes and Harrison Smith, linebackers Eric Kendricks and Anthony Barr. John Shipley, Twin Cities, "After disappointing season, Vikings’ Mike Zimmer went to the woodshed," 7 June 2019 Cornerback Amani Oruwariye, a fifth-round pick from Penn State, said the defensive backs are leaning on each other to improve their takeaway skills. Carlos Monarrez, Detroit Free Press, "Detroit Lions had a takeaway problem in 2018. Here's how they're fixing it," 7 June 2019 Other position coaches hired so far are Dan Morrison (quarterbacks), John Estes (offensive line), A.J. Smith (offensive assistant), Tom Mason (linebackers) and Derrius Bell (defensive backs). John Mcclain, Houston Chronicle, "Houston XFL team adds personnel to football operations," 7 June 2019 The Eagles defense was a playing a deep zone – something like a Cover 3 or 4 – but Thorson threw into a Bermuda Triangle of defensive backs. Jeff Mclane, https://www.inquirer.com, "Eagles Practice Observations: J.J. Arcega-Whiteside shines in the red zone; Sidney Jones caps solid OTAs with an INT; Malik Jackson arrives," 5 June 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Minkins was recruited as a defensive back at Louisville, but also received scholarship offers as a wide receiver. Jason Frakes, The Courier-Journal, "Ballard's Josh Minkins Jr. commits to Louisville football, following in father's footsteps," 14 June 2019 The Germans conceded they had been hurled back on the defensive in the Carentan fighting, a third of the way across the Cherbourg Peninsula, as the Allies brought in reinforcements. Wes Gallagher, Houston Chronicle, "YANKS TAKE TOWN NEAR CHERBOURG," 9 June 2019 Harris has found herself on the defensive for her anti-truancy efforts, a signature initiative during her tenure as San Francisco district attorney and then as California attorney general. Melanie Mason, latimes.com, "Kamala Harris defends her record as prosecutor: ‘It matters who is in those rooms’," 8 June 2019 Burdick as a hard-hitting defensive back and wide receiver for Nick Ayers at Glen Este (now West Clermont) was listed at 5-10 and 185 pounds as a senior. Scott Springer, Cincinnati.com, "Greater Cincinnati product taken in third round of MLB Draft by Florida Marlins," 4 June 2019 Catalon will be a defensive back in college though. William Wilkerson, star-telegram, "These are the Top 11 uncommitted DFW football recruits in 2019," 9 July 2018 This latest edition of musical investigation chairs, that old Washington parlor game, guaranteed that the Nunes's connection to the Russia spy controversy might throw the Alpha Omega Winery onto the defensive. Timothy J. Burger, Town & Country, "The Side Business Devin Nunes and Donald Trump Have in Common," 17 Apr. 2017 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

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

18 Jun 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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having a desire to acquire more things

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