on/onto the defensive

Definition of on/onto the defensive

  1. 1 :  in or into a situation in which one is forced to defend or protect someone or something We won after keeping the other team on the defensive for most of the game. Their soldiers appear to be on the defensive.

  2. 2 :  in or into a position in which one has to argue that something (such as one's action or belief) is good or correct when others say that it is bad or wrong The reporter often asks questions that put/place people on the defensive. He found himself on the defensive when the subject of the environment was discussed.

Word by Word Definitions

  1. :  to a position on

    :  in or into a state of awareness about

    : used as a function word to indicate a set each element of which is the image of at least one element of another set

  1. :  mapping elements in such a way that every element in one set is the image of at least one element in another set

  1. :  serving to defend or protect

    :  devoted to resisting or preventing aggression or attack

    :  of or relating to the attempt to keep an opponent from scoring in a game or contest

  1. :  a position serving to protect or defend :  a defensive position

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