Defence vs. Defense

Defence and Defense are different spellings of the same word. Defense is preferred in American English, and defence is preferred in all other main varieties of English, including Australian, British, and Canadian English. The spelling distinction extends to most derivatives ofdefence/defense, including defences/defenses and defenceless/defenseless. But the wordsdefensive, defensiveness, and defensively have an s everywhere.

Though defense is now the American spelling, it is not American in origin. The OED and Google Books reveal examples of the spelling from as long ago as the 1300s, many centuries before the United States existed. That spelling continued to appear a fraction of the time through the 19th century, when it was taken up by American writers. Today, to the chagrin of those who dislike American English, the spelling is gaining ground throughout the English-speaking world.

The words “defence” and “defense” can mean a lot of things, but many still ask whether they are the same or not. The answer is: They are indeed the same. To know why and how they have the same meanings, read further.

Foremost, it is important to know that there are two major notations of spellings that are widely accepted today worldwide. These are the British and the English spellings. Back in the 18th century, the English spellings were not standardized which led to much confusion after several British-spelled words surfaced and were made public. To the common knowledge of most people, Webster has been the major proponent of the English system. In this regard, “defense” is the American spelling whereas “defence” is the British counterpart pertaining to the same term. Australian, Canadian, and U.K. language users prefer the British notation whereas the American system is mainly used in North and South America and in some parts of Asia.

In sports, the words “defense” or “defence” can also mean the way a team or player defends or protects his area of responsibility from the offending attacks of the other opposing team. In many sports, such as ice hockey,Football, water polo, basketball, and volleyball, among others, this term is frequently being used by the coaches, fans, and the players themselves.Messi_2676393b

In terms of the military scene, the words can pertain to the act of protecting oneself either through the use of protective devices, weaponry, the terrain advantage, and one’s body parts in the act of defense or defence. More so, this word can imply the overall tactics that a unit or units employ to fend off an attack.

The word is used in many different areas in the sciences and law. It can be used in a court of law to mean the counteraction of the defendant of any charges being placed against him or her. By denying the said charges, he or she is then making a defense or defence. Moreover, the word can also pertain to a mechanism in the body, specifically, the “defense mechanism.” This term is frequently applied in the sciences such as in psychology. The word can also act as a noun wherein it becomes the subject being spoken about like: “The main defense of the port was the sea wall.”


In summary, the main difference between the words “defense” and “defence” is that “defense” is the English-spelled word whereas “defence” is the British notation of the same word bearing the exact same meaning.


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