Defence vs. Defense | Difference & Example Sentences

Defence and defense are two different spellings of the same word, a noun used to refer to the act of protecting or defending something, the legal plea of a person on trial for a crime, or a sports position intended to prevent an opponent from scoring.

The spelling tends to vary based on whether you’re writing in UK or US English:

  • In UK English, “defence” (with a “c”) is standard.
  • In US English, “defense” (with an “s”) is more common.
Examples: Defence or defense in a sentence
Lucas used to play offense, but now he plays defence/defense.

Besides exercise, a healthy diet is another good defence/defense against illness.

There are members of the defence/defense force outside the embassy.

The attorney was confident they had a strong defence/defense.

Note
Another word used in a legal context, judgment/judgement, also has two spellings.

Defensive

Defensive (with an “s”) is an adjective used to describe something as “intended for defence/defense.” It can also be used to describe someone who is likely to challenge criticism.

While the spelling distinction carries over to some related words like “defenceless”/“defenseless,” versions of defence/defense that have a suffix beginning with “i” are spelled with an “s” in both UK and US English (e.g., defensive, defensiveness, defensible). “Defencive” is never correct.

Examples: Defensive in a sentence
The castle has numerous defensive features.

The former manager was a defensive person. He didn’t take criticism well.

In my defense or in my defence

In my defence/defense is a phrase used to justify something you have done. It means the same whether written with an “s” or a “c.”

Example: In my defence/defense in a sentence
In my defence/defense, I didn’t know the bike was broken when I sold it to you.

Other interesting language articles

If you want to know more about commonly confused words, definitions, and differences between US and UK spellings, make sure to check out some of our other language articles with explanations, examples, and quizzes.

 

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Eoghan Ryan

Eoghan has a lot of experience with theses and dissertations at bachelor's, MA, and PhD level. He has taught university English courses, helping students to improve their research and writing.