Definition of defensive in English:


Line breaks: de¦fen|sive
Pronunciation: /dɪˈfɛnsɪv


  • 1Used or intended to defend or protect: defensive barriers
    More example sentences
    • This group unites to form a defensive force to protect the city from a new band of villains.
    • The mammals swam in tight circles to create a defensive barrier as the great white lurked under the surface.
    • At the Tuileries, meanwhile, courtiers were going about armed and preparing defensive positions.
  • 1.1(In sport) relating to or intended as defence: a defensive player a poor defensive record
    More example sentences
    • He is the first player ever to be voted top rookie and defensive player of the year in the same season.
    • Benitez can also boast having one of the country's best defensive records having conceded just six times.
    • Liverpool have the eighth best goalscoring record and the seventh best defensive record.


on the defensive

Expecting or resisting criticism or attack: British forces were on the defensive
More example sentences
  • They held up his reform programme and kept him on the defensive by mounting attacks on his closest associates.
  • Stay on the defensive, dodge constantly, and look for the other guy to make mistakes.
  • The Germans mostly remained on the defensive in the west in 1915, while chasing the Russians out of Poland.



More example sentences
  • Her younger sister replied quickly and somewhat defensively, Grace noted.
  • I asked, perhaps a little bit too defensively which, of course, gave me right away.
  • Con quickly held his pistols by the barrels and brought them up defensively.


More example sentences
  • Nonetheless, like a pebble in a pond, he sets off ripples of confusion, defensiveness and jealousy in the camp.
  • If activists gain successes, it's perhaps less because of their firepower or organisation than because of the defensiveness of the groups that they take on.
  • While the victory in Harare stemmed the tide, it could not halt the team's characteristic and understandable retreat into sullen defensiveness.


late Middle English: from Old French défensif, -ive, from medieval Latin defensivus, from Latin defens- 'warded off', from the verb defendere (see defend).

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