Definition of defence in English:


(US defense)


  • 1[mass noun] The action of defending from or resisting attack.

    ‘methods of defence against this kind of attack’
    ‘she came to the defence of the eccentric professor’
    ‘he spoke in defence of a disciplined approach’
    • ‘We will match their determination with our own; we will be as resolute as they are fanatical; as strong in defence of good as they are hell-bent on doing evil.’
    • ‘This poses an important test for those of us who want to make a consistent stand in defence of liberties during the second term.’
    • ‘But we need to go much further in defence of freedom.’
    • ‘The first tablet was unveiled in the Parish Church some months ago and is a memorial to the brave fellows who lost their lives in defence of their country's interests.’
    • ‘All they were doing was acting in their own defence and in defence of each other.’
    • ‘Surely that is enough reason for our elected representatives to act in defence of our safety?’
    • ‘As in sport, T.J. was always ready to stand his ground in defence of his sincerely held beliefs.’
    • ‘As in America, the citizens' militia was an integral part of a patriot ideology that extolled the right of a free people to bear arms in defence of liberty.’
    • ‘She was adamant that her brother had fallen in defence of our two countries, the land of his birth and England, the land of his ancestors.’
    • ‘There's a danger that this stand in defence of reason could be subsumed by some of the other unreasonable trends of our time.’
    • ‘At our meeting, Mr. Hansen presented a number of rationales in defence of the proposed increase in holding capacity.’
    • ‘It is a battle in defence of reason and objectivity, the very basis of all scientific enquiry.’
    • ‘My article was rather a statement not just in my own defence, but in defence of the whole tradition of the kind of fiction that I belong to.’
    • ‘At present, the law allows homeowners to use only ‘reasonable force’ in defence of themselves and their homes.’
    • ‘The defendant was taking the moral high ground by volunteering for imprisonment in defence of his position.’
    • ‘One player is not going to score all the goals, be the toughest player, play defense and stop the puck.’
    • ‘The county court upheld her suspension, and at the end of November the state's supreme court refused to hear the case she had lodged in defence of free speech.’
    • ‘It is important that people support this case financially so that a precedent in defence of our rights can be established.’
    • ‘Unlike the police, they act only in defence of private places.’
    • ‘Were they standing firm in defence of our traditional country sports?’
    protection, shielding, safeguarding, guarding
    vindication, justification, support, advocacy, approval, endorsement, promotion
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1[count noun]An instance of defending a title or seat in a contest or election.
      ‘his first title defence against Jones’
      • ‘His seven-year reign and 19 successful title defences constitute a record for the 115-pound division.’
      • ‘Hopkins has earned his status as one of the all-time middleweight greats by remaining unbeaten through world title defences spanning over a decade.’
      • ‘Nevertheless, eight consecutive title defences over the following two years put paid to any suggestion that Ali was not a worthy champion.’
      • ‘Five of his title defences have come against last weeks opponent or against Joichiro Tatsuyoshi from whom he won the title.’
      • ‘He will also equal Jim Watt's record of four successful title defences.’
      • ‘Artur, you are one of boxing's longest reigning champions with 17 title defenses.’
      • ‘Better still, Glasgow should now recognise the man who has now stretched his Scottish record of world title defences to seven.’
      • ‘Fast forward to the present day and it turns out that the current European Championships are staging a whole host of title defences.’
      • ‘Only one of his 7 title defenses have gone the distance.’
      • ‘He hints that his place in the pantheon is not yet secure, though Saturday's contest will extend to eight his record of world title defences.’
      • ‘And, of course, Mike and Kitty are the proud possessors of Jim's Lonsdale Belt won for those successful defences on his British title.’
      • ‘Shabaani will be making a first defence of the title he won by a stoppage of Ferid Jeddau in Italy this year to improve his unbeaten fight record to 15 fights.’
      • ‘Two title defences on home soil preceded the launch of McGuigan in Las Vegas, outdoors at Caesars Palace.’
      • ‘Goosen warmed up for next week's US Masters with an admirable defence of the title.’
      • ‘Between the two they've made 42 title defenses.’
      • ‘On top of that he made 20 consecutive title defenses during his seven year reign as heavyweight champion, only Joe Louis made more with 25.’
      • ‘His major targets for 2004 are the state and national titles and a defence of the zone titles.’
      • ‘Gulliver has set herself high standards and will be sure to make a resolute defence of her title and the Grand Slam.’
      • ‘But they are not harbouring thoughts that they will have an easy defence of the title.’
      • ‘The home-crowd advantage should lead the Canadian women to a successful defence of the title.’
    2. 1.2Military measures or resources for protecting a country.
      ‘the minister of defence’
      [as modifier] ‘defence policy’
      • ‘But military defense that protected only one state, or a small group of states, still is a public good.’
      • ‘The general is also the prime minister and defense minister in the military government.’
      • ‘Those who formulate defense policy and military strategy must learn to see beyond the immediate and the obvious.’
      • ‘Military and defence issues are peripheral to the Nice Treaty, it has argued.’
      • ‘Most American defense planners naturally consider military predominance to be a major strength.’
      • ‘Does active military involvement in defense policymaking actually threaten civilian control?’
      • ‘The gap is a function of demographics, strategy, defense spending, and military policy.’
      • ‘It also covers the more general matters of defence policy and strategy and military planning and intelligence.’
      • ‘He encouraged members to increase interaction with civilians to gain their support for the nation's defense policy and military build-up plans.’
      • ‘Although Russia's defence minister had recommended military action, most of the generals were against it.’
      • ‘Technology will continue to be pervasive in national defense and warfare.’
      • ‘But this does not apply for military or defence operations or where the Council unanimously decides otherwise.’
      • ‘We owe no less to the well-being of our nation's defense system and the military profession.’
      • ‘Yet what opportunities were lost to a free France and Britain and the Low Countries before 1940 to re-arm and negotiate military defense strategies?’
      • ‘Differences in population growth create fundamental trends that influence military strategy and defence policy.’
      • ‘In the case of air defense or offensive military equipment, waiting until friendly forces are engaged is too late to confirm disablement.’
      • ‘In the nuclear world deterrence became not merely an element of defence and military strategy, but its defining feature.’
      • ‘An upsurge of regular exchange visits between the top defense and military leaderships of the two countries followed.’
      • ‘Even now each state, moreover, seeks to get ahead of other states as it deals with its military and defense problems.’
      • ‘The appropriate metaphor is no longer that of traditional military defense or even police protection.’
      armaments, weapons, weaponry, arms, military measures, military resources
      View synonyms
    3. 1.3A means of protecting something from attack.
      ‘wire netting is the best defence against rabbits’
      • ‘His study identified a variety of ways that a bank employee could defeat the main line of defence in the central security system guarding PIN numbers.’
      • ‘But as the disease spread out of control, authorities switched to vaccinations as the main form of defense, he added.’
      • ‘Your main defense against them is billions of acidophilus bacteria, your ‘good’ intestinal flora.’
      • ‘The telephone survey of some 1,000 companies found that firewalls were the main line of defence against hackers for most companies.’
      • ‘In woody plants, carbon-based chemical compounds such as phenolics and terpenes comprise the main chemical defence.’
      • ‘With its blue back and silver flanks the garfish is well camouflaged, but its main anti-predator defence is its turn of speed.’
      • ‘It coincides roughly with a series of military bases that form the main federal line of defense for South Texas.’
      • ‘Acquired immunity is the main physiological mechanism of defense available to vertebrates against parasites.’
      • ‘However, the main Japanese defense on Mount Tapotchau remained.’
      • ‘Warrick said the Turks used the pine logs to cover their trenches in defence against the attacking Australians.’
      • ‘In between dodging the baddies, Lafcadia helps an old blind woman cross a river and meets up with a young thief, whose main line of defense is a pot of chili pepper - the original pepper spray.’
      • ‘The main defence against them is protective clothing - gas masks and special suits made of rubber or treated synthetic cloth.’
      • ‘The fort was built in 1793 under John Simcoe and was Toronto's main defence against an army of mindless marauders in 1812.’
      • ‘Goannas use a sideswipe with their heavy tail as their main weapon of defence and have been known to break the leg of a pursuing dog.’
      • ‘Everyone at the barrier, considered by Bogside people to be their main line of defence, was either dead or wounded.’
    4. 1.4Fortifications or barriers against attack.
      ‘coastal defences’
      • ‘You did not just sit behind your defences and let the attack overwhelm you: you fired back.’
      • ‘He pronounced military defences ready for a potential missile attack, but said the risks of such a strike were slim.’
      • ‘These defences the Allied armies felt compelled to attack.’
      • ‘The goal was to destroy the enemy's will to fight by demonstrating our superiority and ability to attack into their strongpoint defenses in and around the city at will.’
      • ‘The Romans also developed tunnelling for military purposes, either by breaking through behind enemy defences or by undermining fortifications to cause their collapse.’
      • ‘Outside the main defences lay large outworks such as the Terra Nova and Fort William.’
      • ‘In the first six months of 1944 Rommel strongly reinforced the defences and placed obstacles on all large beaches.’
      barricade, fortification, bulwark, buttress, fortress, fastness, keep, rampart, outpost, bastion
      View synonyms
  • 2The case presented by or on behalf of the party accused of a crime or being sued in a civil lawsuit.

    ‘the farmer's defence was that he intended only to wound the thief’
    • ‘One of these standards is that an accused person must be given full opportunity to present his defence.’
    • ‘In defamation the falsity of the libel or slander is presumed; but justification is a complete defence.’
    • ‘Truth is a defence for libel; civil suits are decided on the balance of probability, not beyond reasonable doubt.’
    • ‘This is a common law claim for damages which is subject to a defence of mitigation.’
    • ‘It may be said that there is an evidentiary onus on an accused person in raising a defence of alibi.’
    • ‘It is clear from the cases that the breach by the plaintiff is a complete defence to a claim that the defendant failed to perform its promise.’
    • ‘It is a defence for an accused person to prove that his conduct was reasonable in the circumstances of the case.’
    • ‘But the Crown may just decide to go ahead and prosecute for murder, which itself allows the accused a defence of insanity that can lead to acquittal.’
    • ‘Duress has been recognised as a general defence to all crimes except treason and murder.’
    • ‘So in one sense there would be very few defamation cases where a defence of qualified privilege could be raised.’
    • ‘It is clear law that in any context in which consent of the injured party is a defence to what would otherwise be a crime or a civil wrong, the consent must be real.’
    • ‘The defendant has entered a substantive defence pleading justification and qualified privilege.’
    • ‘Automatism is often regarded as a defence to crime rather than as an essential component of criminal conduct.’
    • ‘In its defence the Third Party has admitted liability by the defendant but denies any obligation for contribution or indemnity.’
    • ‘Given the way the accused conducted his defence, and the evidence, we do not think that any miscarriage of justice has occurred in this particular case.’
    • ‘Others suggested that he was at fault for trying to present an alibi defense.’
    • ‘If successful such a defence leaves the third party liable to conviction on the basis of strict liability.’
    • ‘Their second defence is that they were trying to prevent a crime, a defence allowed under the Criminal Law Act 1967.’
    • ‘The only defence remaining alive at present is, therefore, I suggest, the disputed decision about qualifying privilege.’
    • ‘The defendant shall then be invited to respond by presenting his defence and may also call witnesses in support.’
    rebuttal, denial
    View synonyms
    1. 2.1[treated as singular or plural]The counsel for the defendant in a lawsuit.
      ‘the defence requested more time to prepare their case’
      • ‘He was then cross-examined by counsel for the defence.’
      • ‘At the request of the defence, jurors considered a murder charge only.’
      • ‘George had been due back in court yesterday, but the defence and prosecution requested an adjournment until February 1st.’
      • ‘The magistrates agreed to the defence counsel's application for the defendants' costs to be taxed and paid out of central funds.’
      • ‘Later on the same day, the required documentation was sent by the plaintiff's solicitor to defence counsel.’
      • ‘At the request of the defence, she asked the police to obtain a forensic test of some evidence.’
      • ‘I can foresee Counsel for the defence making this point and nullifying my evidence.’
      • ‘Meanwhile, at this week's court session the judge allowed the defence to provide a new experts report from specialists chosen by the Bulgarians.’
      • ‘Requests by the defence to allow the three men to leave the country on security grounds pending this appeal have been denied.’
      • ‘The judge also left provocation to the jury, though the defence did not request this.’
      • ‘A second post-mortem has been carried out at the request of the defence and her body has now been released.’
      • ‘But counsel for the defence did say that he did want a special verdict even though there were some perhaps equivocal remarks in relation to it.’
      • ‘He pleaded not guilty, and reporting restrictions were lifted at the defence's request.’
      • ‘At the request of the defence it was searched at the beginning of the trial.’
      • ‘The fact is that it is not for the defence to have to request the prosecution to serve its evidence.’
      • ‘Advocate Amin Solkar and Advocate Saeed Azami are the defence counsels in the case.’
      • ‘They were going to be told that in no uncertain way, in effect, by both counsel, the defence needing to respond to the way in which the Crown would properly put the case.’
      • ‘In that fax, the Crown transmitted the defence request for disclosure of the audiotape and the booking videotape.’
      • ‘Although it heard the applicant on various issues, it did not rehear the witnesses, and the defence made no request that it should.’
      • ‘He would then step down as counsel and become the hostile witness for the defence.’
  • 3(in sport) the action or role of defending one's goal or wicket against the opposition.

    ‘Wolves were pressed back into defence’
    • ‘Their defense played a huge role in helping them reach the playoffs for the third time in Edwards' four seasons.’
    • ‘Cochin Port Trust did not click as a team and ICF played a fast and neat game, but it needs taller players to survive in defence.’
    • ‘In defence Kirkby looked solid thanks to their experienced and physical back four.’
    • ‘The White Sox usually rank near the bottom of the league in team defense but have reversed that trend.’
    • ‘The Colombia goalkeeper marshalled a defence that conceded 21 goals in 34 league games.’
    • ‘He is the most consistent player on defense, and the team can't afford to lose him.’
    • ‘A lot of players won't play defense [if they're not scoring].’
    • ‘In defence Ilkley were largely solid and Ashton, Mark Houlston David Taylor and Beaumont all had good games.’
    • ‘Good goal keeping and a solid defence prevented Oakworth getting an equaliser.’
    • ‘Weak play on defense and special teams have made it difficult to be patient with the running game.’
    1. 3.1The players in a team who defend the goal.
      ‘despite heavy pressure the defence was coping well’
      ‘Ford returns to United's defence’
      [count noun] ‘dribbling through defences’
      • ‘And they can count on their defense and special teams to score only so many touchdowns.’
      • ‘The team will depend on several aging players to improve a defense that slipped last season.’
      • ‘The player is capable of mesmerizing any team's defence on his good day.’
      • ‘The ball went to Bell who weaved his way through the defence to give his team a converted try.’
      • ‘Stam played, and against a modest team United's defence conceded two goals.’
      • ‘This inevitably put the defence under pressure and this eventually led to York's second goal.’
      • ‘At the back, Robert Raeside is a key player in a defence that has only conceded nine goals.’
      • ‘The Texans pinned their hopes on the defense and special teams, both of which came through in a big way.’
      • ‘Could they make the playoffs with this defense or is the team still a year or two away?’
      • ‘It wins with a dominating defense and flawless special teams, timing and chutzpah.’
      • ‘There was however much to admire in the performance of the team as a whole with the defence apart from the goals turning in a committed wholehearted performance.’
      • ‘Part of the dismal run is the team's porous defence which has conceded an incredible 52 goals in 29 matches.’
      • ‘Yass attacked time and again and the defence of the team was tested, however, they stood firm and held the line.’
      • ‘All of a sudden you are attacking with four and it may leave you exposed in midfield and that may be why we are putting more pressure on the defence.’
      • ‘Ben Greenhow got in behind the defence for the home team's best chance before the break, but powered his shot wide.’
      • ‘Classic threatened but could not break down a stubborn Leopards defence denying the home team a sniff at goal.’
      • ‘The very sight of a player running through the defence holding the stick in one hand and guiding the ball throughout as if it was glued to the stick is something to behold.’
      • ‘He always blames the defence when the team is not doing well.’
      • ‘It purely comes down to the players - defending is not just about the defence, it requires the whole team to make an effort.’
      • ‘After their early progress, Charlton were finding it difficult to get out of their own half and relieve some pressure on the defence.’


  • defence in depth

    • The arrangement of defensive lines or fortifications so that they can defend each other.

      • ‘The Germans were using new tactics of defence in depth developed in the west, and the Russian offensive ground to a halt with appalling casualties.’
      • ‘It has been claimed that fortified defence lines, supported by defence in depth, were an outmoded concept in the face of a warfare of movement.’
      • ‘In the 1720s, the strategic military forces were concentrated around Moscow, able to deploy to any theater, while a series of fortified lines were constructed along the outer perimeters to provide a defense in depth.’
      • ‘The land allowed for defense in depth and could also serve as a bargaining tool for peace treaties when the fighting stopped.’
      • ‘It would provide defense in depth, with light screening forces located in a forward area and most forces concentrated close to key potential targets.’
      • ‘He must then establish a defence in depth housed on an engagement area that will not be visible in daylight until 30 minutes after the expected enemy attack.’
      • ‘As the Stalin Line had been largely dismantled, there was no defence in depth.’
      • ‘Meanwhile, an attempt by the military command to organize multi-layered defense in depth, patterned after the Soviet model built on the Kursk Bulge in 1943, proved ineffectual.’
      • ‘This option strengthens the nation's maritime shield by revitalizing the full range of capabilities that provide ‘maritime defense in depth.’’
      • ‘An increased power of strikes delivered by the troops on the offensive forced the armies to switch from archipelago defense to total integrated defense in depth that balanced the sides’ fighting possibilities to a certain extent.’


Middle English: from Old French defens, from late Latin defensum (neuter), defensa (feminine), past participles of defendere defend.