Synonym Chooser

How is the word defend different from other verbs like it?

Some common synonyms of defend are guard, protect, safeguard, and shield. While all these words mean "to keep secure from danger or against attack," defend denotes warding off actual or threatened attack.

defend the country

When is guard a more appropriate choice than defend?

The meanings of guard and defend largely overlap; however, guard implies protecting with vigilance and force against expected danger.

White House entrances are well guarded

When would protect be a good substitute for defend?

The synonyms protect and defend are sometimes interchangeable, but protect implies the use of something (such as a covering) as a bar to the admission or impact of what may attack or injure.

a hard hat to protect your head

When might safeguard be a better fit than defend?

Although the words safeguard and defend have much in common, safeguard implies taking precautionary protective measures against merely possible danger.

our civil liberties must be safeguarded

Where would shield be a reasonable alternative to defend?

The words shield and defend are synonyms, but do differ in nuance. Specifically, shield suggests protective intervention in imminent danger or actual attack.

shielded her eyes from the sun with her hand

Thesaurus Entries Near defend

Cite this Entry

“Defend.” Thesaurus, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 23 Apr. 2024.

More from Merriam-Webster on defend

Love words? Need even more definitions?

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