fence

noun, often attributive
\ ˈfen(t)s How to pronounce fence (audio) \

Definition of fence

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 archaic : a means of protection : defense
2a : a barrier intended to prevent escape or intrusion or to mark a boundary especially : such a barrier made of posts and wire or boards
b : an immaterial barrier or boundary line on the other side of the fence in the argument
4a : a receiver of stolen goods
b : a place where stolen goods are bought
on the fence
: in a position of neutrality or indecision

fence

verb
fenced; fencing

Definition of fence (Entry 2 of 2)

transitive verb

1a : to enclose with a fence
b(1) : to keep in or out with a fence
(2) : to ward off
2 : to provide a defense for
3 : to sell (stolen property) to a fence

intransitive verb

1a : to practice fencing
b(1) : to use tactics of attack and defense resembling those of fencing
(2) : to parry arguments by shifting ground
2 archaic : to provide protection

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from fence

Noun

fenceless \ ˈfen(t)s-​ləs How to pronounce fenceless (audio) \ adjective
fencelessness noun

Verb

fencer noun

Synonyms & Antonyms for fence

Synonyms: Noun

Synonyms: Verb

Antonyms: Verb

Visit the Thesaurus for More 

Examples of fence in a Sentence

Noun We put up a fence around our yard. the only way to prevent motorists from trying to use that unsafe bridge is to put a fence across the road leading to it Verb a house with a fenced-in yard He stole watches and fenced them on the street.
See More
Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Antlers clacked on antlers, cartilage snapped, and the breath of three thousand animals rose over the fence. Juliana Hanle, Scientific American, "The Fight for the Reindeer," 18 Nov. 2019 Andre and her family had mere minutes to flee the Tubbs Fire in 2017, and flames were devouring their back fence by the time her husband drove away. Megan Cassidy, SFChronicle.com, "Once burned, twice evacuated: After Kincade Fire, some reconsider Sonoma County," 10 Nov. 2019 On the day of the takeover, Nov. 4, 1979, Islamic students scaled its fence the same way their Marxist rivals had done earlier that year on Feb. 14. BostonGlobe.com, "TEHRAN — The US Embassy in Tehran remains frozen in 1979 as the 40th anniversary of the Iran hostage crisis approaches, a time capsule of revolutionary graffiti, Underwood typewriters, and rotary telephones.," 3 Nov. 2019 These thoughts have been running through my mind faster than Colton hurdling over that fence. Christopher Rosa, Glamour, "Peter Weber’s Face Is Fine, in Case You Were Wondering," 22 Oct. 2019 A few minutes later a resident reported a vehicle matching the description of the suspect vehicle had pulled into her rear yard and a black male had run from the car and climbed her fence. Houston Chronicle, "Memorial Villages Police Department weekly report," 21 Oct. 2019 At no time was the public at any risk due to our perimeter fence around the entire property. Tiffini Theisen, orlandosentinel.com, "Lioness escapes from pen at Florida sanctuary after volunteer left gate open," 10 Oct. 2019 On an episode of The Osbournes, the family's reality TV show, Kelly's mother, Sharon, threw a baked ham over their fence into the yard of their noisy neighbor, hence the ham picture on the wheel. Laura Hanrahan, Woman's Day, "Who is The Ladybug on 'The Masked Singer?' The Fans Have a Few Ideas," 27 Sep. 2019 Chrissy and John have, in the immortal words of the Olsen twins and Kirstie Alley, that can't-eat, can't-sleep, reach-for-the-stars, over-the-fence, World Series kind of love. Kayleigh Roberts, Marie Claire, "Chrissy Teigen Wishes John Legend a Happy Anniversary on Instagram," 14 Sep. 2019 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Part of the fencing around the tree appears damaged, according to a photo of the tree posted online. Cody Boteler, baltimoresun.com, "The Arbutus Oak has split in two, but its legacy could live on," 23 Sep. 2019 Emma's father got into an argument last week with Cleveland about the condition of the fencing for the dogs, Emma's aunt Claudia Stapleton told CNN affiliate WDIV. Theresa Waldrop And Carma Hassan, CNN, "The owner of dogs that mauled a 9-year-old girl to death charged with murder," 23 Aug. 2019 Slovenia expands border fence to curb migrant inflow: Slovenia has started erecting an additional 25 miles of fencing on its southern border with Croatia to keep migrants out of the small Alpine state. Washington Post, "World Digest: Aug. 22, 2019," 22 Aug. 2019 In June, an Associated Press reporter was part of a group that visited a U.S. Border Patrol holding facility, where hundreds of children were waiting in a series of cages created by metal fencing. Hope Yen, The Seattle Times, "Fact-checking President Trump on migrants, Saudis, Hispanic vote," 22 Oct. 2018 Another group of lawmakers on Sunday visited an old warehouse in McAllen, Texas, where hundreds of children are being held in cages created by metal fencing. CBS News, "Audio tape purportedly of sobbing immigrant kids grabs spotlight," 19 June 2018 Another group of lawmakers on Sunday visited an old warehouse in McAllen, Texas, where hundreds of children are being held in cages created by metal fencing. Fox News, "Recording of crying children at US border adds to outrage," 18 June 2018 Another group of lawmakers on Sunday visited an old warehouse in McAllen, Texas, where hundreds of children are being held in cages created by metal fencing. chicagotribune.com, "Recording of crying children at border adds to family separation outrage," 18 June 2018 Near Southwestern Law School in the Koreatown neighborhood of Los Angeles, a grass strip between the sidewalk and curb is fenced off with green plastic to keep homeless people away. Tim Arango, New York Times, "As Homelessness Surges in California, So Does a Backlash," 21 Oct. 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'fence.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

See More

First Known Use of fence

Noun

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Verb

15th century, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1a

History and Etymology for fence

Noun

Middle English fens, short for defens, defense defense entry 1

Verb

Middle English fensen, derivative of fens fence entry 1

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about fence

Time Traveler for fence

Time Traveler

The first known use of fence was in the 14th century

See more words from the same century

Statistics for fence

Last Updated

28 Nov 2019

Cite this Entry

“Fence.” The Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/fences. Accessed 9 December 2019.

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for fence

fence

noun
How to pronounce fence (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of fence

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: a structure like a wall built outdoors usually of wood or metal that separates two areas or prevents people or animals from entering or leaving
informal : a person who buys stolen property from thieves and sells it

fence

verb

English Language Learners Definition of fence (Entry 2 of 2)

: to put a fence around (a place or area)
: to keep (something or someone) in or out with a fence
: to fight with swords : to practice the art or sport of fencing

fence

noun
\ ˈfens How to pronounce fence (audio) \

Kids Definition of fence

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: a barrier (as of wood or wire) to prevent escape or entry or to mark a boundary

fence

verb
fenced; fencing

Kids Definition of fence (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : to enclose with a fence fence a yard
2 : to fight with swords : to practice the sport of fencing

Other Words from fence

fencer noun

fence

noun

Legal Definition of fence

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : a barrier intended to prevent escape or intrusion or to mark a boundary
2a : a receiver of stolen goods
b : a place where stolen goods are bought
fenced; fencing

Legal Definition of fence (Entry 2 of 2)

1a : to enclose with a fence
b : to keep in or out with a fence
2 : to sell (stolen property) to a fence

Keep scrolling for more

More from Merriam-Webster on fence

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for fence

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with fence

Spanish Central: Translation of fence

Nglish: Translation of fence for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of fence for Arabic Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about fence

Comments on fence

What made you want to look up fence? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).

WORD OF THE DAY

contradictory or incongruous words

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Semantic Drift Quiz

  • a twisty river
  • Which of the following was once a synonym for fun?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

TAKE THE QUIZ
Add Diction

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ
Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!