Other forms: defenses

Defense has to do with protecting something or fighting against an opponent, whether it's national defense, a football team's defense, or a defense lawyer.

Defense is the opposite of offense. It has to do with defending against all sorts of things: In the military, defense is about protecting a country from attack. In sports, defense is supposed to stop the other team from scoring. A defense attorney tries to prove his client is innocent. A defense can even be an excuse for doing something, as in "In my own defense, I was sleepwalking at the time."

Definitions of defense
  1. noun
    the act of defending someone or something against attack or injury
    “a good boxer needs a good defense
    defense against hurricanes is an urgent problem”
    synonyms: defence
    see moresee less
    type of:
    the activity of protecting someone or something
  2. noun
    a structure used to defend against attack
    “the artillery battered down the defenses
    synonyms: defence, defensive structure
    see moresee less
    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
    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
    any of various Spanish fortresses or palaces built by the Moors
    projecting part of a rampart or other fortification
    bastion, citadel
    a stronghold into which people could go for shelter during a battle
    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
    a large building formerly occupied by a ruler and fortified against attack
    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
    a temporary fortification built by troops in the field
    a stronghold
    donjon, dungeon, keep
    the main tower within the walls of a medieval castle or fortress
    temporary fortification like a detached bastion
    martello tower
    a circular masonry fort for coastal defence
    fortification consisting of a strong fence made of stakes driven into the ground
    breastwork, parapet
    fortification consisting of a low wall
    a fortress established in the southwestern United States by the Spanish in order to protect their missions and other holdings
    an entrenched stronghold or refuge
    (military) a temporary or supplementary fortification; typically square or polygonal without flanking defenses
    a small fort or earthwork defending a ford, pass, or castle gate
    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
  3. noun
    (military) military action or resources protecting a country against potential enemies
    “they died in the defense of Stalingrad”
    “they were developed for the defense program”
    synonyms: defence, defensive measure
    see moresee less
    show 12 types...
    hide 12 types...
    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
    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
  4. noun
    an organization of defenders that provides resistance against attack
    “he joined the defense against invasion”
    synonyms: defence, defence force, defense force
    see moresee less
    a group that defends a principle
    type of:
    organisation, organization
    a group of people who work together
  5. noun
    (sports) the team that is trying to prevent the other team from scoring
    “his teams are always good on defense
    synonyms: defence, defending team
    see moresee less
    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)
  6. noun
    protection from harm
    “sanitation is the best defense against disease”
    synonyms: defence
    see moresee less
    type of:
    the activity of protecting someone or something
  7. noun
    (psychiatry) an unconscious process that tries to reduce the anxiety associated with instinctive desires
    synonyms: defence, defence mechanism, defence reaction, defense mechanism, defense reaction
    see moresee less
    show 14 types...
    hide 14 types...
    (psychiatry) a defense mechanism that conceals your undesirable shortcomings by exaggerating desirable behaviors
    (psychiatry) a defense mechanism represses emotional conflicts which are then converted into physical symptoms that have no organic basis
    (psychiatry) a defense mechanism that denies painful thoughts
    (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
    (psychiatry) a defense mechanism in which memory of an unacceptable act or impulse is separated from the emotion originally associated with it
    (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
    (psychiatry) a defense mechanism in which you flee from reality by assuming a more infantile state
    (psychiatry) the classical defense mechanism that protects you from impulses or ideas that would cause anxiety by preventing them from becoming conscious
    (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
    (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
  8. noun
    the justification for some act or belief
    “he offered a persuasive defense of the theory”
    synonyms: defence, vindication
    see moresee less
    show 4 types...
    hide 4 types...
    apologia, apology
    a formal written defense of something you believe in strongly
    (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:
    a statement in explanation of some action or belief
  9. noun
    the speech act of answering an attack on your assertions
    “in defense he said the other man started it”
    synonyms: defence, refutation
    see moresee less
    the speech act of refuting conclusively
    the speech act of refuting by offering a contrary contention or argument
    type of:
    the speech act of replying to a question
  10. noun
    the defendant and his legal advisors collectively
    “the defense called for a mistrial”
    synonyms: defence, defense lawyers, defense team
    see moresee less
    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
  11. noun
    a defendant's answer or plea denying the truth of the charges against him
    “he gave evidence for the defense
    synonyms: defence, demurrer, denial
    see moresee less
    criminal prosecution, prosecution
    the institution and conduct of legal proceedings against a defendant for criminal behavior
    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
DISCLAIMER: These example sentences appear in various news sources and books to reflect the usage of the word ‘defense'. Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of or its editors. Send us feedback
Word Family

Look up defense for the last time

Close your vocabulary gaps with personalized learning that focuses on teaching the words you need to know.

VocabTrainer -'s Vocabulary Trainer