Definition of defensiveness in US English:



  • 1The quality of being anxious to challenge or avoid criticism.

    ‘their supporters have reacted with defensiveness and hostility to the disclosure’
    ‘Jane had a note of defensiveness in her voice’
    • ‘Quite a few responders have responded with an unusual amount of strained seriousness and defensiveness.’
    • ‘It was left to the New York Times to deplore the defensiveness of much of the debate.’
    • ‘Your training approach provided information and knowledge without creating defensiveness or guilt.’
    • ‘Giving orders can trigger resentment and defensiveness in colleagues and subordinates.’
    • ‘I would not hire someone who reacted with suspicion, hostility and defensiveness to areas of knowledge with which he or she was not already acquainted.’
    • ‘He observes more closely what happens in relationships, without criticism or defensiveness.’
    • ‘I think the BBC itself needs to avoid defensiveness, and engage with its critics.’
    • ‘But I realized that our confidence provoked an enormous defensiveness from the rest of the group.’
    • ‘The danger now is a new polarisation born out of fear and defensiveness in us men.’
    • ‘What is the best way to deliver a critical message without arousing defensiveness?’
  • 2Behavior intended to defend or protect.

    ‘defensiveness of the hive was related to the size of the colony’
    • ‘Churchill changed his country's military approach from defensiveness to aggressive attack, and so altered the course of history.’
    • ‘Let's remember that it is promoters of war who have claimed that defensiveness makes a war justified.’
    • ‘See Guzman-Novoa et al. for more details about methods for testing the defensiveness of honeybee colonies.’
    • ‘Nor would bringing in outside elements necessarily moderate ethnic nationalism, and may instead aggravate ethnic defensiveness.’
    • ‘Maybe the history of natural catastrophes in Lisbon - in particular, the great earthquake of 1755 - has further encouraged an architecture of cautious defensiveness.’
    • ‘Judd has studied the defensiveness of wasps throughout of the colony cycle of Polistes fuscatus.’
    • ‘Perhaps some day, political leaders will listen to them as well as to the silent majority and put their house in order instead of adopting an aggressive new nationalist defensiveness?’
    • ‘His program of defensiveness postulated Soviet possession of a defensive capability sufficient to absorb and repulse an enemy blow.’
    • ‘Scottish architecture had been a hybrid of defensiveness and display.’
    • ‘For the prevention of at least some war, what matters is non-provocation and reassurance by means of defensiveness.’