Definition of on the defensive in US English:

on the defensive

phrase

  • Expecting or resisting criticism or attack.

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