Definition of defensive in US English:

defensive

adjective

  • 1Used or intended to defend or protect.

    ‘troops in defensive positions’
    • ‘At the Tuileries, meanwhile, courtiers were going about armed and preparing defensive positions.’
    • ‘However, the Soviet forces quickly managed to construct new defensive positions and bring up fresh forces.’
    • ‘This group unites to form a defensive force to protect the city from a new band of villains.’
    • ‘In front of it lay the very strong Hindenburg Line - a defensive position in which the Germans put a great deal of trust.’
    • ‘The shire developed in Saxon times around Nottingham itself, where the rock made a strong defensive position.’
    • ‘The mammals swam in tight circles to create a defensive barrier as the great white lurked under the surface.’
    • ‘On the other hand, the Austrians enjoyed a strong defensive position that could be maintained at a relatively low cost.’
    • ‘I followed her outside to where the guards had formed defensive ranks.’
    • ‘Those involved in the ambush said a trap had been laid, and that the area was marked with defensive earth berms and firing positions.’
    defending, guarding, safeguarding, protecting, protective, shielding, screening
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1attributive (in sports) relating to or intended as defense.
      • ‘They were left to rue one awful defensive blunder which enabled full back Simon Verbickas to race in for a try.’
      • ‘The final was closer than the scoreline suggested, with both players adopting a defensive style in a gruelling final.’
      • ‘He is not considered a good defensive player, mainly because of his lack of speed.’
      • ‘Liverpool have the eighth best goalscoring record and the seventh best defensive record.’
      • ‘You are the dominant defensive player in the game, yet rarely do you run into foul trouble.’
      • ‘The defensive players were boisterous and energetic and were taking it to the offense.’
      • ‘A great defensive performance kept the score line blank at half time.’
      • ‘Getting your first wind is now a difficult thing, the weaker player getting into a defensive stance right from the start.’
      • ‘Early in the match he brought a fine save out of David Marshall in the Celtic goal after a defensive error from Joos Valgaeren.’
      • ‘Next, have the player go through the defensive movements in slow motion on the court.’
      • ‘Make a short hard jab step in the direction of the defensive player with your right foot.’
      • ‘A defensive lapse in the 43rd minute allowed a Brandon player to get a shot on target.’
      • ‘Very early on in a table tennis career you have to decide whether you want to be an attacking or defensive player.’
      • ‘Dings deserve credit for some excellent defensive work and solid set-piece play.’
      • ‘He has as much athleticism as any collegiate player and strong defensive ability.’
      • ‘The Rams are sure to use most of their draft picks on defensive talent and make staff changes.’
      • ‘At the time when he was forced into suspension United sat top of the table, with the best defensive record in the league.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘The Bucs simply played a brilliant defensive game, one of the best in recent memory.’
  • 2Very anxious to challenge or avoid criticism.

    ‘he was very defensive about that side of his life’
    • ‘Their gazes met, held, and the defensive expression in her eyes shattered.’
    • ‘Many patients say they felt discouraged from complaining in the face of a defensive approach to criticism.’
    • ‘Unlike my sister, who became more reserved, I became an extrovert and very defensive.’
    • ‘Yet when challenged they got ever so defensive and the story quickly unravelled.’
    • ‘He was never frightened, but was easily defensive, and yet he also had a gentle side.’
    • ‘Could you be feeling defensive because you want to avoid having to say you're sorry?’
    • ‘Unsurprisingly, he is defensive and does not take criticism very well.’
    • ‘I'm no psychologist but he did seem a little defensive about his name.’
    • ‘Most said they were met with a defensive and legalistic attitude by the organisation.’
    • ‘His death is another development in a series of angry exchanges between a critical media and a defensive government.’
    • ‘Both sides tend to adopt inflexible, judgmental and defensive attitudes toward one another.’
    • ‘Certainly ignorance tends to make people defensive and a little insecure.’
    • ‘One side admitting intellectual vulnerability may make the other side less defensive too.’
    • ‘Host Alan Kohler quite nicely brought out this defensive side with some telling jabs.’
    • ‘Perhaps we should cut out the defensive attitudes and actually read what was posted?’
    • ‘Her expression is pained, quizzical and defensive, as if expecting a tirade of criticism at every turn.’
    self-justifying, oversensitive, thin-skinned, easily offended, prickly, paranoid, neurotic
    View synonyms

Phrases

  • on the defensive

    • Expecting or resisting criticism or attack.

      ‘the forces have remained on the defensive’
      • ‘They say that's because the president is on the defensive after the first two debates.’
      • ‘They haven't really been able to emphasise those points because they've been on the defensive.’
      • ‘The Germans mostly remained on the defensive in the west in 1915, while chasing the Russians out of Poland.’
      • ‘The mobile rings buzzes displaying ‘Withheld’ which puts me on the defensive for a start.’
      • ‘Being on the defensive for a while is not that bad, though such an attitude would render them losers in the long run.’
      • ‘They held up his reform programme and kept him on the defensive by mounting attacks on his closest associates.’
      • ‘That showed how a minority party can make news and put the majority party on the defensive.’
      • ‘Avoid responding to them in kind and attacking them to put them on the defensive.’
      • ‘He put me on the defensive and I lost all the momentum I gained talking to the assistant.’
      • ‘Stay on the defensive, dodge constantly, and look for the other guy to make mistakes.’

Origin

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

Pronunciation

defensive

/dəˈfensiv//dəˈfɛnsɪv/