Definition of fence in English:

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Pronunciation: /fɛns/


1A barrier, railing, or other upright structure, typically of wood or wire, enclosing an area of ground to prevent or control access or escape.
Example sentences
  • South Korean news agency Yonhap said the group cut through a wire fence to gain access to the school grounds in a northern suburb of Beijing early Friday.
  • They broke the wire fence to the play area along with the overflow pipe to the drinking fountain.
  • Very good control using a wire fence is essential for any kind of utilisation.
barrier, paling, railing, rail, bar, hurdle, enclosure;
wall, hedge, hedgerow, windbreak, groyne, partition;
barricade, stockade, palisade, rampart, protection, defence
rare circumvallation
1.1A large upright obstacle in steeplechasing, showjumping, or cross-country.
Example sentences
  • Lake was injured when his mount jumped poorly at the next-to-last fence during a novice hurdle race and unseated him.
  • A chase involves larger, rigid fences while a hurdle race is run over shorter, more flexible obstacles.
  • On the second circuit, these two fences are bypassed and the last obstacle has no fence on it at all.
2A guard or guide on a plane, saw, or other tool.
Example sentences
  • This leaves a short side surface at right angles to the rear of the strip, adequate for guiding the fence of the cornice plane.
  • The fence of this plane is guided by the drawer side, and the depth stop sets the distance to be cut into the side of the drawer.
  • The fence of a plow plane must be held firmly at the chosen distance from its stock if the tool is to function properly.
3 informal A person who deals in stolen goods.
Example sentences
  • There he meets up with the wily Artful Dodger who takes him to thief and fence Fagin, who is in charge of a gang of young pickpockets.
  • For Polanski portrays the fence Fagin and his gang of children who steal silk handkerchiefs, pocket watches and wallets in a far more sympathetic light than the authorities.
receiver of stolen goods, dealer in stolen goods;
receiver, dealer, trafficker
informal pusher


[with object]
1Surround or protect with a fence: our garden was not fully fenced
More example sentences
  • The entire area of the marsh has to be fenced to protect the remaining part from further encroachment, say nature lovers, who enjoy its vast expanse and birdlife.
  • The gardens which surround the property are fenced with mature spruce trees separating the garden from the road.
  • Sections of upper beach were fenced to protect nests, and regulations limiting some recreational activities were posted and enforced.
enclose, surround, circumscribe, encircle, circle, encompass, bound, form a barrier around, form a ring round;
divide up, section off, separate off, partition off, cut off, cordon off, close off, isolate, segregate, seal, close
literary gird, girdle, engird
rare compass
1.1 (fence something in/off) Enclose or separate an area with a fence: a small plantation of young trees had been fenced off
More example sentences
  • Two specific areas of trees will be fenced off on the bank of the beck so the saplings will be safe from being eaten by deer or other animals.
  • It is not just the learning spaces that are separate; the children are fenced off from each other in the playing areas.
  • I have turned up before 5pm and been told the area was fenced off because of lack of staff.
confine, pen in, coop up, rail in, box in, wall in, hedge in, hem in, close in, shut in, shut up, mew up, immure, lock in, shut off, separate off, cut off;
intern, impound, hold captive, keep under lock and key;
enclose, surround, kettle;
secure, protect, defend;
North American  corral
1.2 (fence someone/thing out) Use a barrier to exclude someone or something: walkers may find themselves fenced out of the moor
More example sentences
  • On summer rangeland, you need to start accumulating growth no later than early July by fencing cows out of the planned winter pasture.
  • He decided to plant willows and fence the cows out.
  • Next, the area is sown with regnans and other native hardwood seeds, and any animals - wallabies, wombats, and possums - that might eat seedlings are fenced out, trapped, or shot.
2 informal Buy or sell (stolen goods): after stealing your ring, he didn’t even know how to fence it
More example sentences
  • However, unknown to her friends and neighbours, she was running a seaside syndicate of burglars who stole to order and used her shop to fence the goods.
  • You then made a business of fencing the goods you asked him to steal at your store for profit.
  • Policemen need to be out there checking on pawnbrokers and second-hand dealers, because they know who is fencing the goods.
receive stolen goods, deal in stolen goods
3 [no object] Engage in the sport of fencing.
Example sentences
  • Next, Anders took a wooden sword and fenced with one of the dummies.
  • When one fences a lot and sweats abundantly, the mask can deteriorate quickly.
  • He jabbed the air a couple of times, as if he were fencing, before swinging his sword round his head like a slingshot.
3.1Conduct a discussion or argument in an evasive way: twelve months of fencing with McLaren had taken a toll on his nerves
be evasive, be vague, be ambiguous, be non-committal, equivocate, prevaricate, stall, vacillate, quibble, hedge, beat about the bush, dodge the issue, sidestep the issue, parry questions, fudge the issue, mince one's words
informal pussyfoot around, duck the question, duck the issue, waffle, flannel, shilly-shally
rare palter, tergiversate



mend (one's) fences

see mend.

outside the fences

Australian /NZ informal Beyond settled country: I understood that anything outside the fences belonged to nobody
More example sentences
  • More than one-third of the continent, over 720 million acres of it, remains outside the fences of the rural holdings.
  • My suggestions are intended for the benefit of prospectors and others who have not had a varied experience outside the fences.
  • Rabbits bred up very fast outside the fences on Crown Land and came on to the farmers' paddocks.

over the fence

Australian /NZ informal Unreasonable or unacceptable.

side of the fence

Used to refer to either of the opposing positions or interests involved in a particular situation: whatever side of the fence you are on, the debate on conventional versus organic farming is not going to disappear
More example sentences
  • Now, we're on the opposite side of the fence - we're selling the little house we've grown to love.
  • You were a media planner, and handled the media campaigns of other models, so what did you learn from the other side of the fence?
  • In 1994 they had been on the other side of the fence, yet, today they all sit next to each other peacefully in church.

sit on the fence

Avoid making a decision or choice.
Example sentences
  • But he's going to make change and he's going to bring a lot of confidence to a lot of people who are sitting on the fence with the same decision.
  • You should make a decision; you cannot sit on the fence.
  • If that brings to mind a lot of dithering and sitting on the fence, you couldn't be more wrong.
undecided, uncommitted, uncertain, unsure, vacillating, wavering, dithering, hesitant, tentative, doubtful, irresolute, ambivalent, torn, in two minds, in a dilemma, on the horns of a dilemma, in a quandary;
neutral, impartial, non-aligned, non-partisan, unbiased, open-minded;
British  humming and hawing
informal iffy, blowing hot and cold



Pronunciation: /ˈfɛnsləs/
Example sentences
  • Apart from the gate leading to the four-car garage, the house has no other fence except for the around two-meter-high outer wall, topped by a fenceless garden that is accessible through a narrow flight of entrance stairs.
  • The close proximity of the buildings, with fenceless front lawns divided only by driveways, give it a suburban feel - particularly with gleaming cars parked in the en-suite garages.
  • His route comes within 50 feet of where I'm standing, just beyond the fenceless boundary at South Fork.


Pronunciation: /ˈfɛnsə/
Example sentences
  • "Our female fencers did so well and clinched all gold medals in the women's events," he said.
  • The Scottish team of 15 to 20 fencers will have to pay around £2000 each to represent their country.
  • Because of its lighter weight, the small sword made it possible for fencers to do more complex defensive movements.


Middle English (in the sense 'defending, defence'): shortening of defence. Compare with fencible and fend.

  • The words fence and fend (Middle English) were originally shortenings of defence and defend (both Middle English), which came from Latin defendere ‘ward off, guard’. Use of fence for ‘railing’ developed early. Association with the art of fencing arose in the late 16th century.

Words that rhyme with fence

cense, commence, common sense, condense, dense, dispense, expense, hence, Hortense, immense, offence (US offense), pence, prepense, pretence (US pretense), sense, spence, suspense, tense, thence, whence

For editors and proofreaders

Line breaks: fence

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