Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • transitive v. To make or keep safe from danger, attack, or harm.
  • transitive v. Sports To attempt to prevent the opposition from scoring while playing in or near (a goal or area of a field, for example).
  • transitive v. Sports To be responsible for guarding (an opposing player).
  • transitive v. Sports To compete against a challenger in an attempt to retain (a championship).
  • transitive v. To support or maintain, as by argument or action; justify.
  • transitive v. Law To represent (a defendant) in a civil or criminal action.
  • transitive v. Law To attempt to disprove or invalidate (an action or claim).
  • intransitive v. To make a defense.
  • intransitive v. Sports To play defense.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • v. To ward off, repel (an attack or attacker).
  • v. To prevent, to keep (from doing something).
  • v. To prohibit, forbid.
  • v. To ward off attacks from; to fight to protect; to guard.
  • v. To support by words or writing; to vindicate, talk in favour of.
  • v. To make legal defence of; to represent (the accused).
  • v. To focus one's energies and talents on preventing opponents from scoring, as opposed to focusing on scoring.
  • v. To attempt to retain a title, or attempt to reach the same stage in a competition as one did in the previous edition of that competition.
  • v. To call a raise from the big blind.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • transitive v. To ward or fend off; to drive back or away; to repel.
  • transitive v. To prohibit; to forbid.
  • transitive v. To repel danger or harm from; to protect; to secure against attack; to maintain against force or argument; to uphold; to guard; ; -- sometimes followed by from or against.
  • transitive v. To deny the right of the plaintiff in regard to (the suit, or the wrong charged); to oppose or resist, as a claim at law; to contest, as a suit.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • To drive off or away; thrust back; fend or ward off; repel.
  • To forbid; prohibit; forefend.
  • To ward off attack from; guard against assault or injury; shield: as, to defend a fortress.
  • To vindicate; uphold; maintain by force, argument, or evidence: as, to defend one's rights and privileges; to defend a cause or claim at law.
  • Synonyms Protect, Shelter, etc. (see keep), guard, shield. Maintain, Vindicate, etc. See assert.
  • In law, to make opposition; enter or make defense: as, the party comes into court, defends, and says.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • v. protect or fight for as a champion
  • v. be the defense counsel for someone in a trial
  • v. protect against a challenge or attack
  • v. argue or speak in defense of
  • v. fight against or resist strongly
  • v. be on the defensive; act against an attack
  • v. state or assert

Etymologies

Middle English defenden, from Old French defendre, from Latin dēfendere, to ward off; see gwhen- in Indo-European roots.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
Middle English defenden, from Old French deffendre (Modern: défendre), from Latin dēfendō ("to ward off"). (Wiktionary)

Examples

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