c. 1400 (adj. and noun), from French défensif (14c.), from Medieval Latin defensivus, from defens-, past participle stem of Latin defendere (see defend). Of persons, "alert to reject criticism," from 1919. Related: Defensively; defensiveness.
1. Circumstances dictated that they played a defensive rather than attacking game.
2. Like their children, parents are often defensive about their private lives.
3. He smiled, not wanting to put the man on the defensive.
4. Accusations are likely to put the other person on the defensive.
5. The government said the moves were purely defensive.