Someone on the defensive is concerned with justifying their actions or words. They have a defensive attitude as they try to protect themselves.

If you know that to defend is to protect, you have an idea what defensive means. When a person is acting defensive, they're trying to protect or justify themselves. People who are insecure or guilty tend to act defensive. Also, defensive players in football try to prevent the other side from scoring, just like defensive military strategies try to protect something. When someone has a defensive attitude, or is forced to defend something, we also say they're "on the defensive."

Definitions of defensive
  1. noun
    an attitude of defensiveness (especially in the phrase `on the defensive')
    synonyms: defensive attitude
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    type of:
    attitude, mental attitude
    a complex mental state involving beliefs and feelings and values and dispositions to act in certain ways
  2. adjective
    attempting to justify or defend in speech or writing
    synonyms: justificative, justificatory
    apologetic, excusatory
    offering or expressing apology
  3. adjective
    intended or appropriate for defending against or deterring aggression or attack
    defensive weapons”
    “a defensive stance”
    designed for defense from a surface position against air attack
    defensive against enemy submarines
    designed for defense against armored vehicles
    attempting to or designed to prevent an opponent from winning or scoring
    en garde
    (fencing) in a defensive stance
    intended or adapted to afford protection of some kind
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    for the purpose of attack rather than defense
    having or showing determination and energetic pursuit of your ends
    characterized by enmity or ill will
    designed to inflict death or personal injury rather than material destruction
    assaultive, attacking
    disposed to attack
    hit-and-run, tip-and-run
    designed for or consisting of a brief attack followed by a quick escape
    incursive, invading, invasive
    involving invasion or aggressive attack
    marauding, predatory, raiding
    characterized by plundering or pillaging or marauding
    on the offensive
    actively attacking
    show more antonyms...
Word Family

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