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

de·fen′sive·ly adv.
de·fen′sive·ness n.
ThesaurusAntonymsRelated WordsSynonymsLegend:
Noun1.defensiveness - excessive sensitivity to criticism; "his defensiveness was manifested in hurt silence"; "the fear of being sued for malpractice has magnified physicians' defensiveness"
sensitiveness, sensitivity - the ability to respond to affective changes in your interpersonal environment
bunker mentality - defensiveness resulting from repeated attacks; "after so many suicide bombings the Israelis have to resist developing a bunker mentality"


[dɪˈfensɪvnɪs] N (= tone) → tono m defensivo; (= attitude) → actitud f defensiva
References in periodicals archive ?
Defensiveness is often a reflection of insecurity in individuals.
Although it is tempting to tell them that you are disgusted and disappointed with their behavior, all that will do is generate hostility and defensiveness.
But that big bad wolf isn't around anymore, at least not in the triumphant, untrammeled form that her defensiveness projects.
When managers stockpile their concerns about an employee and then unload at a later date, the employee's reaction is a combination of defensiveness, denial and distress.
For someone who is constantly urging other agencies to be open to evaluation, such defensiveness is especially unfortunate.
Beneath'' is primarily Claire's story, and Pfeiffer deftly balances defensiveness, vulnerability and a sense of humor about her increasingly outlandish situation as the heroine falls deeper into apparent insanity - and maintains as much dignity as could be expected when Claire learns that things are much, much worse than that.
The terrible disruption of continuity that came from massive personnel changes following each election in West Virginia was offset in Washington by the defensiveness and caution of civil servants primarily devoted to the protection of the institution for which they worked.
But he said he had never before encountered such defensiveness, such ``anti-managerial, anti-chief'' sentiment as when he walked through the door at Rampart.
However, no matter how gently you package your comments, you are likely to meet with defensiveness, disbelief, or even arrogance.
We'll all have to get past defensiveness and fear and political correctness and other barriers to honesty.
However, it is not surprising to find your employee's defensiveness in response to a barrage of negative feedback.
When Ben's gifted daughter movingly reveals her feelings about him in a college entrance essay, for instance, he responds with puzzlement and defensiveness.