defence

This word does NOT mean taking down a fence; it is the British spelling of "defense" — a word that means the act of protecting or defending. Wearing garlic around your neck might be your defence against vampires.

Defence can be verbal as well as physical. If you're in court charged with a crime, you (and your lawyer, if you have one) are called "the defence." If your only defence is that you were sleepwalking when you robbed a gas station, you might be going away for awhile. If you play defence in a team sport, your main job is to keep the other team from scoring (so stay wide awake).

Primary Meanings of defence

1.
n
the act of defending someone or something against attack or injury
2.
n
protection from harm
3.
n
the justification for some act or belief
4.
n
the defendant and his legal advisors collectively
Full Definitions of defence
1

n the act of defending someone or something against attack or injury

Synonyms:
defense
Type of:
protection
the activity of protecting someone or something

n a structure used to defend against attack

Synonyms:
defense, defensive structure
Examples:
show 9 examples...
hide 9 examples...
Alhambra
a fortified Moorish palace built near Granada by Muslim kings in the Middle Ages
Bastille
a fortress built in Paris in the 14th century and used as a prison in the 17th and 18th centuries; it was destroyed July 14, 1789 at the start of the French Revolution
Black Hole of Calcutta
a dungeon (20 feet square) in a fort in Calcutta where as many as 146 English prisoners were held overnight by Siraj-ud-daula; the next morning only 23 were still alive
Kremlin
citadel of Moscow, housing the offices of the Russian government
Maginot Line
a fortification built before World War II to protect France's eastern border; initially considered to be impregnable, it was easily overrun by the German army in 1940
Siegfried line
German fortifications facing the Maginot Line
Tower of London
a fortress in London on the Thames; used as a palace and a state prison and now as a museum containing the crown jewels
Balmoral Castle
a castle in northeastern Scotland that is a private residence of the British sovereign
Machu Picchu
Inca fortress city in the Andes in Peru discovered in 1911; it may have been built in the 15th century
Types:
show 28 types...
hide 28 types...
cheval-de-frise, chevaux-de-frise
defensive structure consisting of a movable obstacle composed of barbed wire or spikes attached to a wooden frame; used to obstruct cavalry
fortification, munition
defensive structure consisting of walls or mounds built around a stronghold to strengthen it
fort, fortress
a fortified defensive structure
line of defence, line of defense
defensive structure consisting of a barrier that can be employed for defense against attack
outwork
subsidiary defensive structure lying outside the main fortified area
fastness, stronghold
a strongly fortified defensive structure
abatis, abattis
a line of defense consisting of a barrier of felled or live trees with branches (sharpened or with barbed wire entwined) pointed toward the enemy
alcazar
any of various Spanish fortresses or palaces built by the Moors
bastion
projecting part of a rampart or other fortification
bastion, citadel
a stronghold into which people could go for shelter during a battle
blockhouse
a stronghold that is reinforced for protection from enemy fire; with apertures for defensive fire
bunker, dugout
a fortification of earth; mostly or entirely below ground
castle
a large building formerly occupied by a ruler and fortified against attack
defilade
the arrangement of defensive fortifications to protect against enemy fire
entrenchment, intrenchment
an entrenched fortification; a position protected by trenches
escarp, escarpment, protective embankment, scarp
a steep artificial slope in front of a fortification
fieldwork
a temporary fortification built by troops in the field
hold
a stronghold
donjon, dungeon, keep
the main tower within the walls of a medieval castle or fortress
lunette
temporary fortification like a detached bastion
martello tower
a circular masonry fort for coastal defence
palisade
fortification consisting of a strong fence made of stakes driven into the ground
breastwork, parapet
fortification consisting of a low wall
presidio
a fortress established in the southwestern United States by the Spanish in order to protect their missions and other holdings
redoubt
an entrenched stronghold or refuge
redoubt
(military) a temporary or supplementary fortification; typically square or polygonal without flanking defenses
sconce
a small fort or earthwork defending a ford, pass, or castle gate
stockade
fortification consisting of a fence made of a line of stout posts set firmly for defense
Type of:
construction, structure
a thing constructed; a complex entity constructed of many parts

n (military) military action or resources protecting a country against potential enemies

Synonyms:
defense, defensive measure
Types:
show 12 types...
hide 12 types...
umbrella
a formation of military planes maintained over ground operations or targets
air defense
defensive measures designed to destroy attacking enemy aircraft or missiles or to nullify their effectiveness
stand
a defensive effort
hasty defence, hasty defense
a defense organized while in contact with the enemy or when time is limited
deliberate defence, deliberate defense
a defense organized before contact is made with the enemy and while time for organization is available; usually includes a fortified zone (with pillboxes) and communication systems
biodefence, biodefense, biological defence, biological defense
procedures involved in taking defensive measures against attacks using biological agents
chemical defence, chemical defense
procedures involved in taking defensive measures against attacks using chemical agents
minelaying, mining
laying explosive mines in concealed places to destroy enemy personnel and equipment
BW defence, BW defense, biological warfare defence, biological warfare defense
defense against biological warfare
active air defense
air defense by the use aircraft or missiles or artillery or electronic countermeasures
passive air defense
air defense by the use of deception or dispersion or protective construction
repulsion, standoff
the act of repulsing or repelling an attack; a successful defensive stand
Type of:
action, military action
a military engagement

n an organization of defenders that provides resistance against attack

Synonyms:
defence force, defense, defense force
Types:
bastion
a group that defends a principle
Type of:
organisation, organization
a group of people who work together

n (sports) the team that is trying to prevent the other team from scoring

Synonyms:
defending team, defense
Antonyms:
offence, offense
the team that has the ball (or puck) and is trying to score
Type of:
squad, team
a cooperative unit (especially in sports)
2

n protection from harm

Synonyms:
defense
Type of:
protection
the activity of protecting someone or something

n (psychiatry) an unconscious process that tries to reduce the anxiety associated with instinctive desires

Synonyms:
defence mechanism, defence reaction, defense, defense mechanism, defense reaction
Types:
show 14 types...
hide 14 types...
compensation
(psychiatry) a defense mechanism that conceals your undesirable shortcomings by exaggerating desirable behaviors
conversion
(psychiatry) a defense mechanism represses emotional conflicts which are then converted into physical symptoms that have no organic basis
denial
(psychiatry) a defense mechanism that denies painful thoughts
displacement
(psychiatry) a defense mechanism that transfers affect or reaction from the original object to some more acceptable one
idealisation, idealization
(psychiatry) a defense mechanism that splits something you are ambivalent about into two representations--one good and one bad
intellectualisation, intellectualization
(psychiatry) a defense mechanism that uses reasoning to block out emotional stress and conflict
isolation
(psychiatry) a defense mechanism in which memory of an unacceptable act or impulse is separated from the emotion originally associated with it
projection
(psychiatry) a defense mechanism by which your own traits and emotions are attributed to someone else
rationalisation, rationalization
(psychiatry) a defense mechanism by which your true motivation is concealed by explaining your actions and feelings in a way that is not threatening
reaction formation
(psychiatry) a defense mechanism in which a person unconsciously develops attitudes and behavior that are the opposite of unacceptable repressed desires and impulses and serve to conceal them
regression
(psychiatry) a defense mechanism in which you flee from reality by assuming a more infantile state
repression
(psychiatry) the classical defense mechanism that protects you from impulses or ideas that would cause anxiety by preventing them from becoming conscious
transference
(psychoanalysis) the process whereby emotions are passed on or displaced from one person to another; during psychoanalysis the displacement of feelings toward others (usually the parents) is onto the analyst
overcompensation
(psychiatry) an attempt to overcome a real or imagined defect or unwanted trait by overly exaggerating its opposite
Type of:
process, unconscious process
a mental process that you are not directly aware of
psychoanalytic process
a process that is assumed to occur in psychoanalytic theory
3

n the justification for some act or belief

Synonyms:
defense, vindication
Types:
show 4 types...
hide 4 types...
apologia, apology
a formal written defense of something you believe in strongly
alibi
(law) a defense by an accused person purporting to show that he or she could not have committed the crime in question
alibi, exculpation, excuse, self-justification
a defense of some offensive behavior or some failure to keep a promise etc.
extenuation, mitigation
a partial excuse to mitigate censure; an attempt to represent an offense as less serious than it appears by showing mitigating circumstances
Type of:
justification
a statement in explanation of some action or belief

n the speech act of answering an attack on your assertions

Synonyms:
defense, refutation
Types:
confutation
the speech act of refuting conclusively
rebuttal
the speech act of refuting by offering a contrary contention or argument
Type of:
answer
the speech act of replying to a question
4

n the defendant and his legal advisors collectively

Synonyms:
defense, defense lawyers, defense team
Antonyms:
prosecution
the lawyers acting for the state to put the case against the defendant
Type of:
accumulation, aggregation, assemblage, collection
several things grouped together or considered as a whole

n a defendant's answer or plea denying the truth of the charges against him

Synonyms:
defense, demurrer, denial
Antonyms:
criminal prosecution, prosecution
the institution and conduct of legal proceedings against a defendant for criminal behavior
Types:
entrapment
a defense that claims the defendant would not have broken the law if not tricked into doing it by law enforcement officials
Type of:
due process, due process of law
(law) the administration of justice according to established rules and principles; based on the principle that a person cannot be deprived of life or liberty or property without appropriate legal procedures and safeguards

Sign up, it's free!

Whether you're a student, an educator, or a life-long learner, Vocabulary.com can put you on the path to systematic vocabulary improvement.