Definitions

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

  • adj. Intended or appropriate for defending; protective.
  • adj. Intended to withstand or deter aggression or attack: a defensive weapons system; defensive behavior.
  • adj. Of or relating to the effort to prevent an opponent from gaining points in a game or athletic contest.
  • adj. Performed so as to avoid risk, danger, or legal liability: defensive driving; defensive medicine,
  • adj. Of or relating to defense.
  • adj. Psychology Constantly protecting oneself from criticism, exposure of one's shortcomings, or other real or perceived threats to the ego.
  • n. A means of defense.
  • n. An attitude or position of defense.
  • idiom on the defensive Prepared to withstand or counter aggression or attack.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • adj. Intended for defence; protective
  • adj. Intended to deter attack
  • adj. Performed so as to minimise risk
  • adj. Displaying an inordinate sensitivity to criticism; compare paranoid
  • adj. Of a bowling or fielding tactic designed to prevent the other side from scoring runs.; of a batting tactic designed to prevent being out.
  • adj. pertaining to defense, as opposed to attack.
  • n. A means, attitude or position of defense.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • adj. Serving to defend or protect; proper for defense; opposed to offensive.
  • adj. Carried on by resisting attack or aggression; -- opposed to offensive.
  • adj. In a state or posture of defense.
  • n. That which defends; a safeguard.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • Serving to defend; proper for defense: as, defensive armor.
  • Of the nature of defense; consisting in resisting attack or aggression: as, defensive war, in distinction from offensive war, which is aggressive.
  • In a state or posture to defend: as, a defensive attitude.
  • n. That which defends or serves for defense; a safeguard; a security.

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

  • adj. intended or appropriate for defending against or deterring aggression or attack
  • adj. attempting to justify or defend in speech or writing
  • n. an attitude of defensiveness (especially in the phrase `on the defensive')

Etymologies

Sorry, no etymologies found.

Examples

  • "No toughness, no championship," he said, repeating one of his go-to tenetsā€”and the phrase defensive end Justin Tuck whispered to his should've-been-hobbled coach that Christmas Eve night when the up-and-down Giants finally seemed to find themselves.

    The Tough Got Going

  • The term defensive driving has taken on a new definition as street conditions continue to deteriorate.

    Corpus Christi Caller Times, Caller.com Stories

  • Jancek joined Georgia's staff in 2005 and was given the title defensive co-coordinator before this season after turning down a coordinator position at South Florida.

    OnlineAthens: Top Headlines

  • Israeli media reports quote President Peres as saying in remarks to reporters in Hebrew, that he raised threats to Israel's security from Iran, and the need for what he called a "defensive wall" against Iran.

    Obama: Israeli-Palestinian Solution 'More Urgent than Ever'

  • A key moment before the war had come in January 1950, when Secretary of State Dean Acheson, in a speech, defined what he called the defensive perimeter that the United States was committed to protecting.

    CIA Files Show U.S. Blindsided By Korean War

  • I'm not sure that coming out on the defensive is a good way to win a leadership contest, but obviously Huw Lewis thinks that the First Minister's recent comments were directed agaist him.

    Huw Lewis on the defensive

  • The firefighters are in what they call a defensive "surround and drown" mode.

    CNN Transcript Feb 5, 2007

  • And if you're worried about getting sued all the time, then there is the natural tendency to practice what they call defensive medicine.

    CNN Transcript Jan 16, 2003

  • VICKERS: Well, the stock, the sectors that you just mentioned are really what we call defensive sectors and that simply means that they're less likely to have earnings disappointments in the midst of a slowing economy.

    CNN Transcript Jun 24, 2000

  • The outer worlds formed what they called a defensive league and with characteristic human rationality promptly attacked us.

    A Question of Courage

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