Also found in: Thesaurus, Medical, Legal, Idioms, Encyclopedia.


1. The act of defending against attack, danger, or injury.
2. A means or method of defending or protecting.
3. Sports The act or an instance of defending a championship against a challenger: will box in his third defense of his title.
4. An argument in support or justification of something. See Synonyms at apology.
5. Law
a. The act of defending a case.
b. A fact or law that provides a full or partial exoneration of the defendant against the charges or claims made in a lawsuit or prosecution.
c. The defendant and his or her legal counsel.
6. The science or art of defending oneself; self-defense.
7. (often dē′fĕns′) Sports
a. The means or tactics used in trying to stop the opposition from scoring.
b. The team or those players on the team attempting to stop the opposition from scoring.
c. Defending ability or potential.
8. The military, governmental, and industrial complex, especially as it authorizes and manages weaponry production.
tr.v. de·fensed, de·fens·ing, de·fens·es Sports
1. To attempt to stop (the opposition) from scoring.
2. To play defense against (an opponent or play).

[Middle English, from Old French, from Latin dēfēnsa, from feminine past participle of dēfendere, to ward off; see defend.]

de·fense′less adj.
de·fense′less·ly adv.
de·fense′less·ness n.
ThesaurusAntonymsRelated WordsSynonymsLegend:
Noun1.defenselessness - the property of being helpless in the face of attackdefenselessness - the property of being helpless in the face of attack
vulnerability - susceptibility to injury or attack
References in classic literature ?
A cry of unspeakable gladness broke from her lips, only to die in terror as she saw the utter defenselessness of her mate, and realized that the lion had recovered himself and was turning upon Tarzan in mad lust for vengeance.
As it was, the very defenselessness of her situation gave her, in my opinion, the right to expect from me even the absurdest sacrifices to the narrowest conventionalities.
THE most striking spectacle presented to a stranger by the shores of Suffolk is the extraordinary defenselessness of the land against the encroachments of the sea.
At the point when a cross-scripting defenselessness was found in 2014, 86% of the 75 million Wordpress site they are not up to date.
The actions "not only left the community in a position of defenselessness, with a high risk of extinction, but also violated its fundamental rights to ethnic and cultural integrity, self-determination, prior consultation, and health in connection with life and a healthy environment," the Corte Constitucional concluded.
Into the 20th century, especially before and during World War II, the Nazi propaganda about Jewish defenselessness and the wartime atrocities against the Jews made the non-violent mensch ideal even more problematic.
This interpretation is unconvincing when we picture the asymmetry of power relations and the defenselessness of the victims.
In such a setup, peacefulness may purely result from defenselessness.
Postmigratory stressors of diverse forms adversely influence asylum seekers who are already sensitive to mental health complications (Popescu, 2015a, b) as a consequence of their former defenselessness to traumatic events.
maneuvered into defenselessness by the same men over and over again.
Feelings of vulnerability can lead to a sense of powerlessness, betrayal, or defenselessness, a "lack of control" when forced to act in a way that is inconsistent with his or her core beliefs and values (Korthagen, Kessels, Koster, Lagerwerf, & Wubbles, 2001).
Infantile defenselessness, individual development, and social organization are present in all of the so-called higher animals; in humans, it just reaches its pinnacle form.