Definition of fence in English:



  • 1A barrier, railing, or other upright structure, typically of wood or wire, enclosing an area of ground to prevent or control access or escape.

    • ‘A few people hurl rocks at guards behind the fence, causing no injuries.’
    • ‘Dispute over ownership of a broken fence around a play area in Moreton is preventing it being repaired.’
    • ‘He looked over at the fence guarding the graveyard and sighed.’
    • ‘There are about a hundred guards at the fence, I'd estimate, and they've got search lights going.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Soldiers found several grenades and tools for cutting fences.’
    • ‘But she'd be a lot more enthusiastic about it if the authorities that run the port didn't put up fences and guards to keep her from it.’
    • ‘Items could include central heating, double glazing, security improvements, tidying of garden areas, improving fences and electrical and gas upgrading.’
    • ‘On the pretext that the statue was about to be attacked, the army erected a barbed wire fence around the area on May 25 and posted soldiers to guard the edifice.’
    • ‘They broke the wire fence to the play area along with the overflow pipe to the drinking fountain.’
    • ‘They found that both adults and children were able to cross over the guard fences due to insufficient height.’
    • ‘Yet it has no bars on its windows, no armed guards or perimeter fences.’
    • ‘The building was like a fortress, a tall gray monument of dusty windows and old bricks, guarded by crude metal fences all around its perimeter.’
    • ‘As one approaches it from the road, one sees little more than high fences with guard posts interspersed at intervals.’
    • ‘I remembered all the good times I had there as a kid, watching cricket, jumping over fences and evading security guards.’
    • ‘Very good control using a wire fence is essential for any kind of utilisation.’
    • ‘It was completely open, no guards, fences, or locks in sight.’
    • ‘These will be placed on a smooth hard standing surface with a fence to enclose the whole skating area.’
    • ‘Lorries are scattered around and a barbed wire fence encircles a large area around the building.’
    • ‘A low, black-painted metal fence enclosed a wide area of the plaza, with two gates in every side.’
    barrier, paling, railing, rail, bar, hurdle, enclosure
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    1. 1.1 A large upright obstacle in steeplechasing, showjumping, or cross-country.
      • ‘Davy Russell and Cregg House pull off a big surprise over the Grand National fences to win the chase.’
      • ‘A course with pretty stiff fences, it suits galloping horses and will expose horses who lack stamina.’
      • ‘Four horses grazed in a nearby field which was dotted with show-jumping fences.’
      • ‘On the second circuit, these two fences are bypassed and the last obstacle has no fence on it at all.’
      • ‘He was favourite to win the race but pulled up with just three fences to go.’
      • ‘Lake was injured when his mount jumped poorly at the next-to-last fence during a novice hurdle race and unseated him.’
      • ‘The horse proved a tough prospect and the pair pulled away with about three fences to go and jumped the last two fences together.’
      • ‘The date is March 1977, a month before Charlotte Brew becomes the first woman to ride over the Grand National fences.’
      • ‘A chase involves larger, rigid fences while a hurdle race is run over shorter, more flexible obstacles.’
      • ‘The seven-year-old, who fell at the first fence in the same race last year, took the lead three fences from home.’
      • ‘Murphy stalked the leaders throughout the race before making his move with three fences to go.’
      • ‘Daughter of Princess Anne, and tenth in line to the throne, Phillips would have prevented Funnell from taking the Grand Slam had she not knocked down a fence in the showjumping.’
      • ‘She narrowly missed out on gold to Pippa Funnell after knocking down a fence in the showjumping.’
      • ‘As well as cameras mounted on four fences, three jockeys will be fitted with cameras in their riding helmets.’
      • ‘He overcame a mistake at the last fence of the 2002 Irish Grand National to beat the opposition.’
      • ‘Meanwhile, Newbury's fences are stiffer than most, meaning that a horse must be a sound jumper if it is to do well there.’
      • ‘I was riding in a beginners' chase, a race for horses seeking their first win over fences.’
      • ‘Five fences from home, Walsh begins to make his move.’
  • 2A guard or guide on a plane, saw, or other tool.

    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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 a plow plane must be held firmly at the chosen distance from its stock if the tool is to function properly.’
  • 3informal A person who deals in stolen goods.

    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    receiver of stolen goods, dealer in stolen goods
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  • 1Surround or protect with a fence.

    ‘our garden was not fully fenced’
    • ‘But all of these seeds showed poor abilities to germinate and propagate in the canyon, even in plots that had been fenced to exclude cows and sheep.’
    • ‘It is fenced and locked, but unlocked on the weekends, allowing hikers and picnickers to climb to the top, or just lay out a picnic blanket in its surrounding grassy area.’
    • ‘In order to close the deal, they first had to fence the 27 acres, separating it from the rest of the farm.’
    • ‘Although the mined area in subsequent wars was clearly mapped and out of human reach, quite a sizeable portion became a danger zone and was, therefore, fenced.’
    • ‘Although he had not examined the fences, the field appeared to be securely fenced.’
    • ‘He expressly referred to the significance of the fact that the plots were fenced and to the potential impact on conditions.’
    • ‘The gardens and paddock to the rear and side of the property are railed and fenced to allow maintenance of pony or other animals.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Low coral walls fence their homes but please ask permission before photographing families at home within these compounds.’
    • ‘The plot is fenced with a combination of logs and brush (both live and dead).’
    • ‘Their yard or garden will also need to be securely fenced so that the puppy remains safely within its confines.’
    • ‘Make sure it's completely fenced, that the fence is locked and that there's no access from the home to the pool.’
    • ‘‘It was the best location as the compound was fenced and could be locked at night,’ Mr Tsirekas said.’
    • ‘Sections of upper beach were fenced to protect nests, and regulations limiting some recreational activities were posted and enforced.’
    • ‘A retired army officer has fenced his plot and even installed a board warning trespassers in bold red letters.’
    • ‘The land was purchased and fenced at a cost of Euro 27,000.’
    • ‘Six months on from the bushfires in the high country many properties are still not properly fenced.’
    • ‘The site is fenced and locked and the crane has a fence around the bottom.’
    • ‘The gardens which surround the property are fenced with mature spruce trees separating the garden from the road.’
    • ‘Moodley says it will be located on the northern side of the dam wall and will be fenced.’
    enclose, surround, circumscribe, encircle, circle, encompass, bound, form a barrier around, form a ring round
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    1. 1.1fence something in/off Enclose or separate an area with a fence.
      ‘a small plantation of young trees had been fenced off’
      • ‘Many graveyards are becoming fenced in and locked up.’
      • ‘It is not just the learning spaces that are separate; the children are fenced off from each other in the playing areas.’
      • ‘Two of the reservoirs are fully fenced in, meaning that livestock are kept well away from the water.’
      • ‘If the owners have their way, swathes of Scotland will in effect be fenced off, with the public confined to paths and pre-determined routes.’
      • ‘It can also be used to fence in pets or protect flower beds from damage by pets and wild vermin such as rabbits.’
      • ‘The following day the entire area was fenced off as alterations begin to take place.’
      • ‘I have turned up before 5pm and been told the area was fenced off because of lack of staff.’
      • ‘Adam Scott, director of regeneration at Blackburn with Darwen Council, said: ‘The site has been securely fenced off and a repair is in hand.’’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Australia led the world in urging that garden swimming pools should be fenced off to protect toddlers.’
      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
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    2. 1.2fence someone/something out Use a barrier to exclude someone or something.
      ‘walkers may find themselves fenced out of the moor’
      • ‘Marilyn Oshry fears that Lake Louise, located within Banff National Park, will lose its wilderness feel if animals are fenced out.’
      • ‘He decided to plant willows and fence the cows out.’
      • ‘Remember, you're not only keeping your stallion in, you're fencing out any horse that may get free and want to challenge your horse.’
      • ‘He plans to return the basin to a more natural state by thinning some sections, fencing cattle out of others, and leaving large islands undisturbed for wildlife.’
      • ‘On summer rangeland, you need to start accumulating growth no later than early July by fencing cows out of the planned winter pasture.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Somewhat along the same line one shopkeeper wondered, ‘Are they trying to fence us in or fence the customers out?’’
      • ‘For comparison, he let cattle graze on two pastures, and fenced them out and made hay from two other pastures.’
  • 2informal Buy or sell (stolen goods)

    ‘after stealing your ring, he didn't even know how to fence it’
    • ‘There was also concern that the car boot sale could be used to fence stolen goods and market stalls may further damage existing trade in the rundown town.’
    • ‘Though most laptops are stolen simply for the hardware to be fenced, exceptions will exist.’
    • ‘Policemen need to be out there checking on pawnbrokers and second-hand dealers, because they know who is fencing the goods.’
    • ‘Better to watch a thief fence his swag than open the Australian magazine and be confronted with the geriatric dribbles of an incontinent mind.’
    • ‘Retailers are collecting the information under a law intended to regulate pawn shops and make it easy for law enforcement officials to track down thieves who fence stolen goods.’
    • ‘As it happened Holly was already acquainted with her, having fenced some stolen merchandise for her from time to time.’
    • ‘But if he is being approached by criminals keen to fence stolen mobiles, it is a certain bet other, less scrupulous, people are too.’
    • ‘You then made a business of fencing the goods you asked him to steal at your store for profit.’
    • ‘He is reported to have had a respectable pawnbroking business in Highbury, and another establishment which fenced stolen goods in the West End.’
    • ‘This is comparable in a way to helping fence stolen goods, which Jewish tradition views as a thinly concealed partnership in crime.’
    • ‘It contained the residue of stolen merchandise that had not yet been fenced or sold.’
    • ‘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.’
    receive stolen goods, deal in stolen goods
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  • 3no object Engage in the sport of fencing.

    • ‘The school was brightly lit with white walls and a tiled floor with a mat flopped upon it for where the students would be fencing.’
    • ‘There is a strong tendency toward this seeking of the blade among men who have fenced under the old rules.’
    • ‘His next visit was to Lapiere, a Frenchman, who had his academy in Piccadilly, where they fenced together.’
    • ‘So now, from the very moment that someone picks up a foil to learn how to fence they can start developing the same skills that are associated with top level fencing performance.’
    • ‘The following year two younger brothers, the Dukes of Gloucester and Cumberland, also started to fence.’
    • ‘Next, Anders took a wooden sword and fenced with one of the dummies.’
    • ‘He jabbed the air a couple of times, as if he were fencing, before swinging his sword round his head like a slingshot.’
    • ‘When one fences a lot and sweats abundantly, the mask can deteriorate quickly.’
    • ‘Ho has fenced for 24 years and competed for almost 20.’
    • ‘During training, he fences for 20-30 minutes non-stop then takes a two minute break and begins again.’
    • ‘One day, I was early for our lesson and I saw the boys fencing.’
    • ‘First they fenced downstairs in Ward's billiard room; the pool table had been moved to the side.’
    • ‘The ‘sword umbrella’, the handle of which is shaped like a hilt, doubles as a mock sword when rolled for children to fence with.’
    • ‘I was trying to teach him how to fence but we didn't have any swords so we used bats.’
    • ‘What all this means is that when you fence a bout it is imperative that you concentrate and focus on fencing distance.’
    • ‘The young visitors were shown the basics of stage fighting and were able to feel for themselves what it is like to fence with a sabre or epee.’
    1. 3.1 Conduct 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
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  • outside the fences

    • informal Beyond settled country.

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

    • informal Unreasonable or unacceptable.

      intolerable, insufferable, unsatisfactory, impermissible, inadmissible, inappropriate, unsuitable, undesirable, unreasonable, objectionable, insupportable
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  • 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’
      • ‘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?’
      • ‘I'm just here to let people know what was really going down on my 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.’
      • ‘As a fan, I'm looking forward to being on the other side of the fence.’
      • ‘I used the term odd, because the same electoral trend was not apparent on the nationalist side of the fence.’
      • ‘There were some people on the other side of the fence, may I say, who reached out and suggested it.’
      • ‘Now, we're on the opposite side of the fence - we're selling the little house we've grown to love.’
      • ‘But he wanted me to stop as a player and go on that side of the fence.’
      • ‘I hope to understand where people who sit on the other side of the fence from me are coming from.’
      • ‘Join me as we look at these issues from the other side of the fence.’
  • sit on the fence

    • Avoid making a decision or choice.

      • ‘Everyone is sitting on the fence on this and we're the first group to come out.’
      • ‘It was still going to be my decision and my decision was going to be that we would not sit on the fence.’
      • ‘As someone who has deferred the choice thus far (rather than actively making a decision), I know I could be accused of sitting on the fence.’
      • ‘You should make a decision; you cannot sit on the fence.’
      • ‘They want someone to make all their choices for them, so they just sit on the fence and wait to be told what to do.’
      • ‘Sometimes a decision is required and there's no option to sit on the fence.’
      • ‘If that brings to mind a lot of dithering and sitting on the fence, you couldn't be more wrong.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘‘Ron has never been one for sitting on the fence when it comes to an opinion,’ Townsend says.’
      • ‘We shall be sitting on the fence until it becomes law.’
      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
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Middle English (in the sense ‘defending, defence’): shortening of defence. Compare with fencible and fend.