One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
Something that acts as a defence or protection; (Medicine) specifically a medicated ointment or plaster applied to the skin; = "defensive". Now historical and rare.
Mid 16th century; earliest use found in Thomas Gale (c1507–1567), surgeon. From post-classical Latin defensativus having the property of defending, defensive, protective from classical Latin dēfensāt-, past participial stem of dēfensāre to act in defence against, to protect + -īvus.
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