Etymology: Middle English, from Anglo-French defendre, from Latin defendere, from de- + -fendere to strike; akin to Old English gūth battle, war, Greek theinein to strike
Date: 14th century
a. to drive danger or attack away from <defend our shores> b. (1) to maintain or support in the face of argument or hostile criticism <defend a theory> (2) to prove (as a doctoral thesis) valid by answering questions in an oral exam c. to attempt to prevent an opponent from scoring at <elects to defend the south goal> 2. archaic prevent, forbid 3. to act as attorney for 4. to deny or oppose the right of a plaintiff in regard to (a suit or a wrong charged) ; contest 5. to retain or seek to retain (as a title or position) against a challenge in a contest <they successfully defended their championship> intransitive verb 1. to take action against attack or challenge 2. to play or be on defense <playing deep to defend against a pass> 3. to play against the high bidder in a card game • defendable adjective Synonyms: defend, protect, shield, guard, safeguard mean to keep secure from danger or against attack. defend denotes warding off actual or threatened attack <defend the country>. protect implies the use of something (as a covering) as a bar to the admission or impact of what may attack or injure <a hard hat to protect your head>. shield suggests protective intervention in imminent danger or actual attack <shielded her eyes from the sun with her hand>. guard implies protecting with vigilance and force against expected danger <White House entrances are well guarded>. safeguard implies taking precautionary protective measures against merely possible danger <our civil liberties must be safeguarded>. Synonym: see in addition maintain.
New Collegiate Dictionary. 2001.