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 The Bucks are first in the league in defensive rating and third in offensive rating, according to NBA.com statistics. Matt Eppers, USA TODAY, "Milwaukee Bucks become earliest team to clinch playoff spot in NBA history," 24 Feb. 2020 Despite those defensive struggles, the Cardinals led 4-3 heading into the bottom of the fifth inning before adding to their lead. Cameron Teague Robinson, The Courier-Journal, "Louisville baseball completes sweep of Valparaiso on back of offensive explosion," 23 Feb. 2020 The Cavs improve by nearly six points per 100 defensive possessions with Kevin Love off the floor. Chris Fedor, cleveland, "Cleveland Cavaliers attempt to quickly ‘flush’ another horrible performance in Miami," 23 Feb. 2020 The Reds had a rough defensive frame in the top of the ninth inning, which included two errors by third baseman Jonathan India. Bobby Nightengale, Cincinnati.com, "Cincinnati Reds drop spring training opener to Chicago White Sox, Stuart Fairchild homers," 23 Feb. 2020 And his overall defensive effort, capped with an important late steal and big free throws down the stretch, helped the Hoosiers close out a tough opponent for an important win. Zach Osterman, Indianapolis Star, "IU basketball puts one foot into NCAA tournament with win over No. 9 Penn State," 23 Feb. 2020 So the spirited defensive specialist reveled in the moment just a bit. Nick Moyle, Houston Chronicle, "Courtney Ramey erupts for career-high 26 as Texas downs Kansas State," 22 Feb. 2020 General Scott Miller said in Kabul that ‘‘our operations are defensive at this point. BostonGlobe.com, "US halts offensive military operations in Afghanistan as part of Taliban deal," 22 Feb. 2020 So the spirited defensive specialist reveled in the moment just a bit. Nick Moyle, ExpressNews.com, "Courtney Ramey erupts for career-high 26 as Texas downs Kansas State," 22 Feb. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Less than six weeks after arriving in Ann Arbor, Harbaugh landed a defensive back, Keith Washington, who grew up just outside Montgomery, Alabama. Rainer Sabin, Detroit Free Press, "Why Michigan football recruiting pipeline to the South has dried up for Jim Harbaugh," 6 Feb. 2020 Now, Martinez may not end up being a defensive back at all. Nathan Baird, cleveland, "Could Cameron Martinez be Ohio State football’s second running back in the 2020 recruiting class?," 5 Feb. 2020 David Moran played quarterback and defensive back for his father, throwing for more than 5,000 yards and 74 touchdowns, running for more than 2,000 yards and 31 TDs and intercepting 25 passes in his career. Richard Obert, azcentral, "Former Bradshaw Mountain football coach Steve Moran dies," 5 Feb. 2020 Ronnie Lott was considered a tough guy before the 1985 season, as the defensive back never shied away from a punishing hit on a ball carrier. Robert Morast, San Francisco Chronicle, "Hater’s guide to loving the San Francisco 49ers," 29 Jan. 2020 At the beginning of 2017, San Francisco hired former NFL defensive back John Lynch, who was working as an announcer for FOX, as general manager. Sean Gregory, Time, "Patrick Mahomes Is Headed for NFL Icon Status at Super Bowl LIV—Unless the 49ers Sterling Defense Can Stop Him," 20 Jan. 2020 Tannehill made it 14-0 with his gorgeous long pass that floated over Raymond's shoulder into his arms behind All-Pro defensive back Marcus Peters. Barry Wilner, The Courier-Journal, "Lamar Jackson sees sensational season upended in Ravens' shocking playoff loss to Titans," 12 Jan. 2020 Another ex-Huskies defensive back, John Robinson IV, said on his personal podcast that Edsall had alienated players recruited by former coach Bob Diaco. Alex Putterman, courant.com, "Amid transfers and ex-player criticism, UConn athletic director David Benedict voices support for Randy Edsall," 8 Dec. 2019 Any such deal would leave the fate of a major Trump administration demand hanging in the wind, putting the president on the defensive at home ahead of the 2020 election. Los Angeles Times, "China narrows scope for trade deal with U.S.," 7 Oct. 2019

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

26 Feb 2020

Cite this Entry

“Defensive.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/defensive. Accessed 26 Feb. 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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