Definition of defend in English:

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Pronunciation: /dəˈfend/


[with object]
1Resist an attack made on (someone or something); protect from harm or danger: we shall defend our country, whatever the cost
More example sentences
  • Heavy guns were put into position on Singapore island to defend it against attack from the sea.
  • Frontline, set up three years ago, works to protect and defend human rights workers in danger across the world.
  • The Board was set up in 1760 to ‘protect, support and defend the interests and religious rights and customs of the Jewish community in the UK’.
fortify, garrison, barricade;
uphold, support, watch over
1.1Speak or write in favor of (an action or person); attempt to justify: he defended his policy of imposing high taxes
More example sentences
  • Everyone adores money, why not the doctors, I asked, in a feeble attempt to defend my colleagues and take the easy way out of a pointless argument.
  • So on this occasion I write to defend you out of principle, not likemindedness.
  • She seemed speechless, so Carla spoke up to defend her.
justify, vindicate, argue for, support, make a case for, plead for;
excuse, explain
support, back, stand by, stick up for, stand up for, argue for, champion, endorse
1.2Conduct the case for (the party being accused or sued) in a lawsuit: the lawyer had defended the dissidents
More example sentences
  • He said private lawyers would also make the trial fairer since the government is the complainant in the case, the prosecutor and at the same time expected to provide lawyers to defend the accused.
  • The availability of an action by a client for breach of contract or negligence against his lawyer for the lawyer's conduct in defending or prosecuting a civil or criminal case is limited.
  • Many European lawyers refused to defend the accused.
1.3Compete to retain (a title or seat) in a contest or election: he successfully defended his congressional seat in new elections (as adjective defending) the defending champion
More example sentences
  • Reigning champion Payne successfully defended his title when he beat the number one seed Jonathan Clark, to whom he had lost 3-2 on the only previous occasion the pair had met.
  • A thrilling finish saw Hardy Eustace successfully defend his Champion Hurdle title, edging out Harchibald and Brave Inca on the line.
  • If the champions are to defend their title successfully then there can be simply no more days like these.
1.4 [no object] (In sports) protect one’s goal rather than attempt to score against one’s opponents.
Example sentences
  • He is a very under-rated striker who not only scores goals but defends well at both ends of the pitch.
  • But it's not about possession, it's about creating chances, scoring goals and defending properly.
  • Left back Stephen Jordan showed there's more to his game than defending by scoring the opening two goals with headers.



Example sentences
  • Sometimes, it's good to just like something for no defendable reason whatsoever!
  • But, smaller companies without a sustainable and defendable niche may be squeezed out.
  • Effectively, this states that council's actions are legally defendable but it does not address if they are morally justifiable or if other actions are permissible.


Middle English: from Old French defendre, from Latin defendere, from de- 'off' + -fendere 'to strike'. Compare with offend.

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: de·fend

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