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

  • n. A structure serving as an enclosure, a barrier, or a boundary, usually made of posts or stakes joined together by boards, wire, or rails.
  • n. The art or sport of fencing.
  • n. One who receives and sells stolen goods.
  • n. A place where stolen goods are received and sold.
  • n. Archaic A means of defense; a protection.
  • transitive v. To enclose with or as if with a fence. See Synonyms at enclose.
  • transitive v. To separate or close off by or as if by means of a fence.
  • transitive v. To ward off; keep away.
  • transitive v. To defend.
  • transitive v. To sell (stolen goods) to a fence.
  • intransitive v. To practice the art or sport of fencing.
  • intransitive v. To use tactics similar to the parry and thrust of fencing.
  • intransitive v. To avoid giving direct answers; hedge.
  • intransitive v. To act as a conduit for stolen goods.
  • idiom on the fence Informal Undecided as to which of two sides to support; uncommitted or neutral.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A thin, human-constructed barrier which separates two pieces of land or a house perimeter.
  • n. A middleman for transactions of stolen goods.
  • n. The place whence such a middleman operates.
  • n. Skill in oral debate.
  • n. The art or practice of fencing.
  • n. A guard or guide on machinery.
  • n. A barrier, for example an emotional barrier.
  • v. To enclose, contain or separate by building fence.
  • v. To defend or guard.
  • v. To engage in the selling or buying of stolen goods.
  • v. To engage in (the sport) fencing.
  • v. (equestrian) To jump over a fence.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. That which fends off attack or danger; a defense; a protection; a cover; security; shield.
  • n. An inclosure about a field or other space, or about any object; especially, an inclosing structure of wood, iron, or other material, intended to prevent intrusion from without or straying from within.
  • n. A projection on the bolt, which passes through the tumbler gates in locking and unlocking.
  • n. Self-defense by the use of the sword; the art and practice of fencing and sword play; hence, skill in debate and repartee. See Fencing.
  • n. A receiver of stolen goods, or a place where they are received.
  • intransitive v. To make a defense; to guard one's self of anything, as against an attack; to give protection or security, as by a fence.
  • intransitive v. To practice the art of attack and defense with the sword or with the foil, esp. with the smallsword, using the point only.
  • intransitive v. Hence, to fight or dispute in the manner of fencers, that is, by thrusting, guarding, parrying, etc.
  • transitive v. To fend off danger from; to give security to; to protect; to guard.
  • transitive v. To inclose with a fence or other protection; to secure by an inclosure.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • To defend; guard; hem in.
  • To obstruct approach to; divide off.
  • To inclose with a fence, as a wall, hedge, railing, or anything that prevents or might prevent entry or egress; secure by an inclosure.
  • To parry or thrust aside as if by fencing: with off.
  • To raise a fence; provide a guard.
  • To practise the art of fencing; use a sword or foil for the purpose of self-defense, or of learning the art of attack and defense.
  • To fight and defend by giving and avoiding blows or thrusts.
  • Figuratively, to parry arguments or strive by equivocation to baffle an examiner and conceal the truth, as a dishonest witness.
  • To deposit stolen property.
  • n. That which fends off; anything that restrains entrance, or defends from attack, approach, or injury; defense; guard.
  • n. An inclosure round a yard, field, or other tract of ground, or round or along the sides of any open space, as part of a large room, a bridge, etc.
  • n. A guard, guide, or gage designed to regulate or restrict the movement of a tool or machine.
  • n. An arm or a projection in a lock which enters the gates of the tumblers when they are adjusted in proper position and coincidence, and at other times prevents such movement of the dog or other obstructing member as would allow the bolt to be retracted.
  • n. The arm of the hammer-spring of a gun-lock.
  • n. The art of self-defense, especially by the sword; fencing; skill in fencing or sword-play; hence, skill in argument and repartee, especially adroitness in defending one's position and baffling an opponent's attacks.
  • n. A purchaser or receiver of stolen goods; the keeper of a place for the purchase or reception of stolen goods, or the place itself.
  • n. An inclosure in which fish are dried, cured, and prepared.

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

  • v. receive stolen goods
  • v. surround with a wall in order to fortify
  • n. a dealer in stolen property
  • v. fight with fencing swords
  • n. a barrier that serves to enclose an area
  • v. enclose with a fence
  • v. have an argument about something


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

Middle English fens, short for defens, defense; see defense.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

The original meaning is "the act of defending", from Middle French defens (see defence), adopted in the 14th century. The sense "enclosure" arises in the mid 15th century. Also from the 15th century is use as a verb in the sense "to enclose with a fence". The generalized sense "to defend, screen, protect" arises ca. 1500. The sense "to fight with swords (rapiers)" is from the 1590s (Shakespeare).



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