Definition of fence in English:



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

    • ‘He looked over at the fence guarding the graveyard and sighed.’
    • ‘Lorries are scattered around and a barbed wire fence encircles a large area around the building.’
    • ‘Soldiers found several grenades and tools for cutting fences.’
    • ‘They broke the wire fence to the play area along with the overflow pipe to the drinking fountain.’
    • ‘As one approaches it from the road, one sees little more than high fences with guard posts interspersed at intervals.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Dispute over ownership of a broken fence around a play area in Moreton is preventing it being repaired.’
    • ‘There are about a hundred guards at the fence, I'd estimate, and they've got search lights going.’
    • ‘I remembered all the good times I had there as a kid, watching cricket, jumping over fences and evading security guards.’
    • ‘They found that both adults and children were able to cross over the guard fences due to insufficient height.’
    • ‘A low, black-painted metal fence enclosed a wide area of the plaza, with two gates in every side.’
    • ‘It was completely open, no guards, fences, or locks in sight.’
    • ‘Items could include central heating, double glazing, security improvements, tidying of garden areas, improving fences and electrical and gas upgrading.’
    • ‘These will be placed on a smooth hard standing surface with a fence to enclose the whole skating area.’
    • ‘A few people hurl rocks at guards behind the fence, causing no injuries.’
    • ‘Very good control using a wire fence is essential for any kind of utilisation.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Yet it has no bars on its windows, no armed guards or perimeter fences.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    barrier, paling, railing, rail, bar, hurdle, enclosure
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    1. 1.1A large upright obstacle used in equestrian jumping events.
      • ‘He overcame a mistake at the last fence of the 2002 Irish Grand National to beat the opposition.’
      • ‘I was riding in a beginners' chase, a race for horses seeking their first win over fences.’
      • ‘He was favourite to win the race but pulled up with just three fences to go.’
      • ‘Four horses grazed in a nearby field which was dotted with show-jumping fences.’
      • ‘A course with pretty stiff fences, it suits galloping horses and will expose horses who lack stamina.’
      • ‘Davy Russell and Cregg House pull off a big surprise over the Grand National fences to win the chase.’
      • ‘As well as cameras mounted on four fences, three jockeys will be fitted with cameras in their riding helmets.’
      • ‘On the second circuit, these two fences are bypassed and the last obstacle has no fence on it at all.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘The seven-year-old, who fell at the first fence in the same race last year, took the lead three fences from home.’
      • ‘A chase involves larger, rigid fences while a hurdle race is run over shorter, more flexible obstacles.’
      • ‘Meanwhile, Newbury's fences are stiffer than most, meaning that a horse must be a sound jumper if it is to do well there.’
      • ‘Lake was injured when his mount jumped poorly at the next-to-last fence during a novice hurdle race and unseated him.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Five fences from home, Walsh begins to make his move.’
      • ‘Murphy stalked the leaders throughout the race before making his move with three fences to go.’
      • ‘She narrowly missed out on gold to Pippa Funnell after knocking down a fence in the showjumping.’
  • 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.’
    • ‘The fence of a plow plane must be held firmly at the chosen distance from its stock if the tool is to function properly.’
    • ‘This leaves a short side surface at right angles to the rear of the strip, adequate for guiding the fence of the cornice plane.’
  • 3informal A person who deals in stolen goods.

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

    ‘our garden was not fully fenced’
    • ‘The plot is fenced with a combination of logs and brush (both live and dead).’
    • ‘The land was purchased and fenced at a cost of Euro 27,000.’
    • ‘Low coral walls fence their homes but please ask permission before photographing families at home within these compounds.’
    • ‘In order to close the deal, they first had to fence the 27 acres, separating it from the rest of the farm.’
    • ‘‘It was the best location as the compound was fenced and could be locked at night,’ Mr Tsirekas said.’
    • ‘The gardens which surround the property are fenced with mature spruce trees separating the garden from the road.’
    • ‘Although he had not examined the fences, the field appeared to be securely fenced.’
    • ‘Moodley says it will be located on the northern side of the dam wall and will be fenced.’
    • ‘A retired army officer has fenced his plot and even installed a board warning trespassers in bold red letters.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Make sure it's completely fenced, that the fence is locked and that there's no access from the home to the pool.’
    • ‘He expressly referred to the significance of the fact that the plots were fenced and to the potential impact on conditions.’
    • ‘The site is fenced and locked and the crane has a fence around the bottom.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Six months on from the bushfires in the high country many properties are still not properly fenced.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Sections of upper beach were fenced to protect nests, and regulations limiting some recreational activities were posted and enforced.’
    • ‘Their yard or garden will also need to be securely fenced so that the puppy remains safely within its confines.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘The gardens and paddock to the rear and side of the property are railed and fenced to allow maintenance of pony or other animals.’
    enclose, surround, circumscribe, encircle, circle, encompass, bound, form a barrier around, form a ring round
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    1. 1.1Enclose or separate with a fence for protection or to prevent escape.
      ‘everything is fenced in to keep out the wolves’
      • ‘I have turned up before 5pm and been told the area was fenced off because of lack of staff.’
      • ‘It can also be used to fence in pets or protect flower beds from damage by pets and wild vermin such as rabbits.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Many graveyards are becoming fenced in and locked up.’
      • ‘Two of the reservoirs are fully fenced in, meaning that livestock are kept well away from the water.’
      • ‘The following day the entire area was fenced off as alterations begin to take place.’
      • ‘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 is not just the learning spaces that are separate; the children are fenced off from each other in the playing areas.’
      • ‘Adam Scott, director of regeneration at Blackburn with Darwen Council, said: ‘The site has been securely fenced off and a repair is in hand.’’
      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. 1.2Use a barrier to exclude someone or something.
      ‘Idaho law requires people to fence out cows’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘He decided to plant willows and fence the cows out.’
      • ‘Somewhat along the same line one shopkeeper wondered, ‘Are they trying to fence us in or fence the customers out?’’
      • ‘On summer rangeland, you need to start accumulating growth no later than early July by fencing cows out of the planned winter pasture.’
      • ‘Marilyn Oshry fears that Lake Louise, located within Banff National Park, will lose its wilderness feel if animals are fenced out.’
      • ‘For comparison, he let cattle graze on two pastures, and fenced them out and made hay from two other pastures.’
      • ‘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.’
  • 2informal [with object] Deal in (stolen goods)

    ‘after stealing your ring, he didn't even know how to fence it’
    • ‘Though most laptops are stolen simply for the hardware to be fenced, exceptions will exist.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘This is comparable in a way to helping fence stolen goods, which Jewish tradition views as a thinly concealed partnership in crime.’
    • ‘As it happened Holly was already acquainted with her, having fenced some stolen merchandise for her from time to time.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘He is reported to have had a respectable pawnbroking business in Highbury, and another establishment which fenced stolen goods in the West End.’
    • ‘But if he is being approached by criminals keen to fence stolen mobiles, it is a certain bet other, less scrupulous, people are too.’
    • ‘Better to watch a thief fence his swag than open the Australian magazine and be confronted with the geriatric dribbles of an incontinent mind.’
    • ‘You then made a business of fencing the goods you asked him to steal at your store for profit.’
    • ‘Policemen need to be out there checking on pawnbrokers and second-hand dealers, because they know who is fencing the goods.’
    • ‘It contained the residue of stolen merchandise that had not yet been fenced or sold.’
    receive stolen goods, deal in stolen goods
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  • 3[no object] Fight with swords, especially as a sport.

    See also Fencing
    • ‘Next, Anders took a wooden sword and fenced with one of the dummies.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘The following year two younger brothers, the Dukes of Gloucester and Cumberland, also started to fence.’
    • ‘What all this means is that when you fence a bout it is imperative that you concentrate and focus on fencing distance.’
    • ‘Ho has fenced for 24 years and competed for almost 20.’
    • ‘He jabbed the air a couple of times, as if he were fencing, before swinging his sword round his head like a slingshot.’
    • ‘There is a strong tendency toward this seeking of the blade among men who have fenced under the old rules.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘I was trying to teach him how to fence but we didn't have any swords so we used bats.’
    • ‘The ‘sword umbrella’, the handle of which is shaped like a hilt, doubles as a mock sword when rolled for children to fence with.’
    • ‘During training, he fences for 20-30 minutes non-stop then takes a two minute break and begins again.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘First they fenced downstairs in Ward's billiard room; the pool table had been moved to the side.’
    • ‘His next visit was to Lapiere, a Frenchman, who had his academy in Piccadilly, where they fenced together.’
    • ‘One day, I was early for our lesson and I saw the boys fencing.’
    • ‘When one fences a lot and sweats abundantly, the mask can deteriorate quickly.’
    1. 3.1Conduct a discussion or argument in such a way as to avoid the direct mention of something.
      ‘we were fencing, not talking about the subject we'd come to talk about’
      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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  • mend (one's) fences

    • Make peace with a person.

      ‘is it too late to mend fences with your ex-wife?’
      • ‘But I think what is very clear, according to people I talked to today, is that they have been attempting to mend fences with him.’
      • ‘It is crucial at such times of crisis to take the steps necessary to mend fences, solidify ranks and do whatever else is needed to tighten up the ship against the current storm.’
      • ‘Now he is back, mending fences and building a power base.’
      • ‘The two have also agreed to mend fences and have an amicable relation-ship after nine months of bitterness.’
      • ‘Long after I had decided I really didn't need to have her in my life, she decided she'd quite like me in hers, and made a sincere, tactful and very generous effort to mend fences.’
      • ‘I mean, some of the things we talked about tonight, which is trying to get people to mend fences and work together.’
      • ‘First he has mended his fences with Miss Maisey and they are now living together as a family.’
      • ‘Surely it is time now to mend fences and initiate policies geared to the good of the game, as it faces into an era of unparalleled opportunity.’
      • ‘What is your candidate going to do to try and mend fences between those fault lines, or conversely, is it more expeditious, politically, to exploit those fault lines?’
      • ‘By working together to preserve their common ecological heritage, there's hope the countries can also mend fences over their political and cultural differences.’
      be friends again, bury the hatchet, declare a truce, make peace, forgive and forget, shake hands, become reconciled, settle one's differences, mend fences, call it quits
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  • side of the fence

    • Either of the opposing positions involved in a conflict.

      ‘whatever side of the fence you are on, the issue is here to stay’
      • ‘I hope to understand where people who sit on the other side of the fence from me are coming from.’
      • ‘There were some people on the other side of the fence, may I say, who reached out and suggested it.’
      • ‘In 1994 they had been on the other side of the fence, yet, today they all sit next to each other peacefully in church.’
      • ‘I used the term odd, because the same electoral trend was not apparent on the nationalist side of the fence.’
      • ‘As a fan, I'm looking forward to being on 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.’
      • ‘Join me as we look at these issues from the other side of the fence.’
      • ‘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?’
      • ‘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.’
  • sit on the fence

    • Avoid making a decision or choice.

      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Everyone is sitting on the fence on this and we're the first group to come out.’
      • ‘‘Ron has never been one for sitting on the fence when it comes to an opinion,’ Townsend says.’
      • ‘Sometimes a decision is required and there's no option to sit on the fence.’
      • ‘You should make a decision; you cannot sit on the fence.’
      • ‘We shall be sitting on the fence until it becomes law.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘It was still going to be my decision and my decision was going to be that we would not sit on the fence.’
      • ‘If that brings to mind a lot of dithering and sitting on the fence, you couldn't be more wrong.’
      • ‘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.’
      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
      neutral, impartial, non-aligned, non-partisan, unbiased, open-minded
      humming and hawing
      iffy, blowing hot and cold
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Middle English (in the sense defending, defence): shortening of defence (see defense). Compare with fend.