Definition of defend in English:

Share this entry


Pronunciation: /dɪˈfɛnd/


[with object]
1Resist an attack made on (someone or something); protect from harm or danger: we shall defend our island, 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’.
protect, guard, safeguard, keep from harm, preserve, secure, shield, shelter, screen;
fortify, garrison, barricade;
fight for, uphold, support, be on the side of, take up cudgels for;
watch over, be the defender of
1.1Speak or write in favour of (an action or person); attempt to justify: he defended his policy of imposing high rates
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/speak for, speak on behalf of, support, speak in support of, give an apologia for, make a case for, plead for, make excuses for, excuse, exonerate, palliate;
explain, give reasons for, give the rationale behind
support, speak in support of, back, stand by, stick up for, stand up for, argue for, champion, endorse, uphold, come to the defence of, sustain, bolster
informal throw one's weight behind
1.2Compete to retain (a title or seat) in a contest or election: he won the party’s nomination to defend the Welsh seat (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.
2Conduct the case for (the party being accused or sued) in a lawsuit: he is a lawyer who specializes in defending political prisoners
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.
3 [no object] (In sport) protect one’s goal or wicket rather than attempt to score against one’s opponents: they were forced to defend for long periods
More 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

Line breaks: de¦fend

Share this entry

What do you find interesting about this word or phrase?

Comments that don't adhere to our Community Guidelines may be moderated or removed.

Related Words