Defend has different shades of meaning, but it always has the sense of protecting something — your ideas, for instance, or your title as world heavyweight champion.

If you order the blood sausage and lamb when you're out to eat with your vegan friends, you may have to defend your eating habits, meaning speak up in support of your choices. Defend can also be something more concrete, like when you defend your property or your country. The lawyer who represents someone accused of a crime is there to defend the accused person — who is called the defendant — and to argue his case in court.

Definitions of defend
  1. verb
    protect against a challenge or attack
    synonyms: guard, hold
    take and maintain control over, often by violent means
    see moresee less
    type of:
    protect, secure
    shield from danger, injury, destruction, or damage
  2. verb
    protect or fight for as a champion
    synonyms: champion
    see moresee less
    type of:
    back, endorse, indorse, plump for, plunk for, support
    be behind; approve of
  3. verb
    fight against or resist strongly
    synonyms: fight, fight back, fight down, oppose
    see moresee less
    show 10 types...
    hide 10 types...
    show strong objection or repugnance; manifest vigorous opposition or resistance; be obstinately disobedient
    fend, resist, stand
    withstand the force of something
    hold out, resist, stand firm, withstand
    stand up or offer resistance to somebody or something
    drive back, fight off, rebuff, repel, repulse
    force or drive back
    stand out
    be stubborn in resolution or resistance
    stand up
    refuse to back down; remain solid under criticism or attack
    resist bravely
    hold off
    resist and fight to a standoff
    remain firm, stand
    hold one's ground; maintain a position; be steadfast or upright
    defy, hold, hold up, withstand
    resist or confront with resistance
    type of:
    contend, fight, struggle
    be engaged in a fight; carry on a fight
  4. verb
    be on the defensive; act against an attack
    see moresee less
    assail, attack
    launch an attack or assault on; begin hostilities or start warfare with
    aggress, attack
    take the initiative and go on the offensive
    show more antonyms...
    show 23 types...
    hide 23 types...
    defend with a bulwark
    protect, secure
    shield from danger, injury, destruction, or damage
    ward off
    avert, turn away, or repel
    arrest, check, contain, hold back, stop, turn back
    hold back, as of a danger or an enemy; check the expansion or influence of
    cover for
    provide an excuse or alibi for someone so as to cover up guilt
    cut down, cut out
    intercept (a player)
    immunise, immunize
    law: grant immunity from prosecution
    protect excessively
    look out
    to protect someone's interests
    hold within range of an aimed firearm
    guard, ward
    watch over or shield from danger or harm; protect
    guard, hold
    protect against a challenge or attack
    screen, shield
    protect, hide, or conceal from danger or harm
    protect through supernatural powers or charms
    fence, fence in, palisade, surround, wall
    surround with a wall in order to fortify
    make safe
    protect or defend (a position in a game)
    be responsible for guarding an opponent in a game
    protect from moths
    body guard
    accompany and protect from physical harm
    take out insurance for
    to take an action to protect against future problems
    keep, preserve
    maintain in safety from injury, harm, or danger
    type of:
    keep, prevent
    stop (someone or something) from doing something or being in a certain state
  5. verb
    argue or speak in defense of
    synonyms: fend for, support
    see moresee less
    show 6 types...
    hide 6 types...
    apologise, apologize, excuse, justify, rationalise, rationalize
    defend, explain, clear away, or make excuses for by reasoning
    stand up, stick up
    defend against attack or criticism
    stand up for; stick up for; of causes, principles, or ideals
    color, colour, gloss
    give a deceptive explanation or excuse for
    offer as an excuse or plea
    extenuate, mitigate, palliate
    lessen or to try to lessen the seriousness or extent of
    type of:
    argue, reason
    present reasons and arguments
  6. verb
    state or assert
    synonyms: maintain
    see moresee less
    maintain, uphold, or defend
    type of:
    say yes to
  7. verb
    be the defense counsel for someone in a trial
    synonyms: represent
    see moresee less
    bring a criminal action against (in a trial)
Word Family

Test prep from the experts

Boost your test score with programs developed by’s experts.

  • Proven methods: Learn faster, remember longer with our scientific approach.
  • Personalized plan: We customize your experience to maximize your learning.
  • Strategic studying: Focus on the words that are most crucial for success.


  • Number of words: 500+
  • Duration: 8 weeks or less
  • Time: 1 hour / week


  • Number of words: 500+
  • Duration: 10 weeks or less
  • Time: 1 hour / week


  • Number of words: 700+
  • Duration: 10 weeks
  • Time: 1 hour / week