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."

Primary Meanings of defense

the act of defending someone or something against attack or injury
protection from harm
the justification for some act or belief
the defendant and his legal advisors collectively
Full Definitions of defense

n 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”
Type of:
the activity of protecting someone or something

n a structure used to defend against attack

“the artillery battered down the defenses
defence, defensive structure
show 9 examples...
hide 9 examples...
a fortified Moorish palace built near Granada by Muslim kings in the Middle Ages
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
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
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

n (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”
defence, defensive measure
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

n an organization of defenders that provides resistance against attack

“he joined the defense against invasion”
defence, defence force, defense force
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

“his teams are always good on defense
defence, defending team
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)

n protection from harm

“sanitation is the best defense against disease”
Type of:
the activity of protecting someone or something

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

defence, defence mechanism, defence reaction, defense mechanism, defense reaction
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

n the justification for some act or belief

“he offered a persuasive defense of the theory”
defence, vindication
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

n the speech act of answering an attack on your assertions

“in defense he said the other man started it”
defence, refutation
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

n the defendant and his legal advisors collectively

“the defense called for a mistrial”
defence, defense lawyers, defense team
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

“he gave evidence for the defense
defence, demurrer, denial
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

Sign up, it's free!

Whether you're a student, an educator, or a lifelong learner, can put you on the path to systematic vocabulary improvement.