verb (used with object)
- to ward off attack from; guard against assault or injury (usually followed by from or against): The sentry defended the gate against sudden attack.
- to maintain by argument, evidence, etc.; uphold: She defended her claim successfully.
- to contest (a legal charge, claim, etc.).
- Law. to serve as attorney for (a defendant): He has defended some of the most notorious criminals.
- to support (an argument, theory, etc.) in the face of criticism; prove the validity of (a dissertation, thesis, or the like) by answering arguments and questions put by a committee of specialists.
- to attempt to retain (a championship title, position, etc.), as in a competition against a challenger.
verb (used without object)
- Law. to enter or make a defense.
- to protect (a person, place, etc) from harm or danger; ward off an attack on
- (tr) to support in the face of criticism, esp by argument or evidence
- to represent (a defendant) in court in a civil or criminal action
- sport to guard or protect (oneself, one’s goal, etc) against attack
- (tr) to protect (a championship or title) against a challenge
c.1300 (early 13c. as a surname), via Anglo-French, from Old French defendeor, agent noun from defendre (see defend). The Latin word in this sense was defensor.
mid-13c., from Old French defendre (12c.) “defend, resist,” and directly from Latin defendere “ward off, protect, guard, allege in defense,” from de- “from, away” (see de-) + -fendere “to strike, push,” from PIE root *gwhen- “to strike, kill” (see bane). In the Mercian hymns, Latin defendet is glossed by Old English gescildeð. Related: Defended; defending.