1) ADJ: usu ADJ n You use defensive to describe things that are intended to protect someone or something.

The Government hastily organized defensive measures, deploying searchlights and anti-aircraft guns around the target cities...

The union leaders were pushed into a more defensive position by the return of a Republican Congress in November.

2) ADJ-GRADED Someone who is defensive is behaving in a way that shows they feel unsure or threatened.

Like their children, parents are often defensive about their private lives.

She heard the blustering, defensive note in his voice and knew that he was ashamed.

Derived words:
defensively ADV-GRADED

`Oh, I know, I know,' said Kate, defensively.

defensiveness N-UNCOUNT

It's just our national defensiveness. We're always worried about what people will think of us.

3) PHRASE: usu v-link PHR, PHR after v If someone is on the defensive, they are trying to protect themselves or their interests because they feel unsure or threatened.

The civil service is on the defensive, scorned by people impatient of red tape and regulations...

He smiled, not wanting to put the man on the defensive.

4) ADJ-GRADED: usu ADJ n In sports, defensive play is play that is intended to prevent your opponent from scoring goals or points against you.

I'd always played a defensive game, waiting for my opponent to make a mistake.

Derived words:
defensively ADV-GRADED ADV after v

Mexico did it not by playing defensively. They did it with exciting, flowing, attacking football.

English dictionary. 2008.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • défensive — ● défensive nom féminin Ensemble de mesures permettant d éviter ou de réduire l effet d une agression. Attitude adoptée par le commandement et qui, se limitant à parer les entreprises de l adversaire, lui abandonne provisoirement l initiative des …   Encyclopédie Universelle

  • defensive — Ⅰ. defensive UK US /dɪˈfensɪv/ adjective ► FINANCE, STOCK MARKET an investment that is defensive is very safe, with little or no risk, and its value does not change very much over a period of time: »a defensive share/stock ► trying to protect… …   Financial and business terms

  • Defensive — De*fen sive, a. [Cf. F. d[ e]fensif.] 1. Serving to defend or protect; proper for defense; opposed to offensive; as, defensive armor. [1913 Webster] A moat defensive to a house. Shak. [1913 Webster] 2. Carried on by resisting attack or… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • defensive — de·fen·sive adj 1: serving to defend or as part of a defense a defensive pleading 2: devoted to resisting or preventing aggressive actions a defensive escape a takeover attempt Barbara Franklin de·fen·sive·ly adv …   Law dictionary

  • Defensive — De*fen sive, n. That which defends; a safeguard. [1913 Webster] Wars preventive, upon just fears, are true defensives. Bacon. [1913 Webster] {To be on the defensive}, {To stand on the defensive}, to be or stand in a state or posture of defense or …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • defensive — ► ADJECTIVE 1) used or intended to defend or protect. 2) very anxious to challenge or avoid criticism. ● on the defensive Cf. ↑on the defensive DERIVATIVES defensively adverb defensiveness noun …   English terms dictionary

  • defensive — [dē fen′siv, difen′siv] adj. [ME & OFr defensif < ML defensivus < L defensus: see DEFENSE] 1. defending 2. of or for defense 3. designating or of the side that defends a goal, basket, etc. in a contest 4. Psychol. constantly feeling under… …   English World dictionary

  • Defensive — (v. lat.), die Vertheidigung gegen einen Feind, sofern sie der Offensive, dem Angriff, entgegengesetzt ist …   Pierer's Universal-Lexikon

  • Defensive — (lat.), die Form kriegerischer Tätigkeit, bei der es, im Gegensatz zur Offensive (s.d.), auf Verteidigung, nicht auf Angriff abgesehen ist. Die D. hat durch die Verbesserung der Waffen außerordentlich an Kraft gewonnen, dennoch wird man aus ihr… …   Meyers Großes Konversations-Lexikon

  • defensive — c.1400 (adj. and noun), from Fr. défensif (14c.), from M.L. defensivus, from defens , pp. stem of L. defendere (see DEFEND (Cf. defend)). Of persons, alert to reject criticism, from 1919. Related: Defensively; defensiveness …   Etymology dictionary

  • defensive — [adj] protective, watchful arresting, averting, balking, checking, conservative, coping with, defending, foiling, forestalling, frustrating, guarding, in opposition, interrupting, opposing, preservative, preventive, protecting, resistive,… …   New thesaurus

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