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Defence Vs Defense: When To Use These Two Words?

by Shahnawaz Alam

This is not the first time we discussed a difference between two different spelling words with the same meaning. In most cases, the words have different spelling. However, they are pronounced the same way and express the same meaning. But defence vs defense is a different story.

It is not just another British English against American English debate anymore. More difference is there. But the main difference is in how the word is spelled. One of them is spelled with a ‘C,’ while the other is spelled with an ‘S.’ But both mean the same meaning. 

In the US, the word defense with an ‘s’ is more prevalent. At the same time, the Britishers spell it like defence, with a ‘c,’ but, as I said, those are not the only difference. There is more. You can read the following article to find out more about it. 

Defence Vs Defense Meaning: What Is he difference?

As I said earlier, the primary difference lies in how both of the words are spelled. The Britishers use the word with a ‘c.’ The same spelling is in countries where British English is prominently followed. However, in America, the word is spelled with an ‘S’ and means the same. 

Defence/Defense Meaning

Both Defense/Defence is a noun with three meanings. These are as follows: 

  • According to Cambridge Dictionary, the act of protecting someone or something against attack is called Defence. It is also something that provides protection against natural occurrences, illnesses and enemies.
  • Both Merriam-Webster Dictionary and Cambridge Dictionary defines Defence/Defense as an explanation that is used to prove that one is not guilty of doing the things they are being accused of. An argument or statement presented in court to prove that a person is guilty of committing a crime is known as Defence. Any argument or statement or speech used to support a person or a thing that is being criticized is also called Defence.
  • In sports, the part of the team that prevents the opposite team from scoring a goal is called Defence. 

Defence Vs Defense Example

Defence Vs Defense Example

Perhaps the following few examples should make it clearer –

In British English, they will use the world like–

  • She was defenceless against the robber. She could barely do anything. 
  • Perhaps, if they had a better defence, Argentina would have won the world cup. 

The same word would be spelled with an ‘s’ in American English. For example–

  • She was defenseless against the robber. She could barely do anything. 
  • Perhaps, if they had a better defense, Argentina would have won the world cup. 

The letter ‘c’ is also carried over to the inflected forms of the word. They don’t have to change it to the American spelling’ defense’. For example, words such as – defenceless, defenceman, defencelessly, etc. are some examples.

But, sometimes, the spelling changes when the suffix added to ‘defence’ starts with an ‘i’. The word replaces the ‘c’ with an ‘s.’ In such case, the word, with a suffix added, starts to spell with an ‘s’ instead of a ‘c’. Using ‘c’ for the word defence or defense would be wrong in both ,American and British English when the suffix (that starts with an ‘i’) is added. Here are the examples that you should follow —

Incorrect: He is a defencive warrior. He cannot fight offensively. 

Correct: He is an defensive warrior. He can’t fight offensively. 

Incorrect: They cornered our team to a defencible position. We could not recover from it. 

Correct: They cornered our team to a defensible position. We could not recover from it.

So, there is another difference aside from American vs British English. But, more difference follows as we delve deep. You may also come across the word being used as a verb. 

The use of the word defense is prominent in the US when they use it in the sports field. Instead of using the “defend against,”, the Americans use it like “defense against”. They use the word defense which is a noun, as a verb. 

Here are the examples –

Ex: They defense themselves against the invaders before realising they should leave the country. 

So, these were the examples helping you distinguish between defence and general defence.

Defence Vs Defense: When To Use Either Of Them?

Defence Vs Defense: When To Use Either Of Them?

If you are curious about when to use either of them, then help is here –

The use of your spelling for words like this is crucial. Some words have two different spellings in America and in Britain. For example – centre vs center, or color or colour. You should change your spelling when writing for a specific audience.

The same applies to Defense vs Defence or defence vs defense. You have to use the spelling with a ‘c’ when your audience is used to British English. This applies to both British people and other countries that follow British English as their Written language. 

However, if you are writing for an American audience, you should write the sentence with an ‘s’ and spell it like Defense instead of Defence. 

Defence Vs. Defense: Examples

In this section, we have provided some sentences with the word Defence/Defence and their inflections such as Defenceless and Defensive. This will give you an idea regarding how to use the words while writing. 

  • Twenty-eight percent of the federal budget is spent on defense/defence.
  • I must say in his defence that he is concerned about people.
  • Defence lawyers will normally prepare the case for the person who is accused.
  • So you cannot blame the defence for that goal.
  • Offence is the best defence.
  • The only defense in her statement was honesty.
  • Throughout the Cold War Nato said it stood for the defense of the West against the ‘Russian aggressor ‘.
  • Every time the subject of your father came up, you got defensive and I backed off because I was afraid of losing you.
  • The Government hastily organized defensive measures against the cyclone.
  • Troops are taking up a defensive position around the town.
  • He’s currently the best defensive player on the team.
  • Nobody has a right to hurt another person, especially a defenseless woman.
  • However, the town was defenseless, as every able-bodied person had already left to fight in the war.
  • The cavalry charged down on the defenceless villagers.
  • She felt utterly defenceless.

Bottom Line

I think the defence vs defense confusion should be resolved once you read the above article. There is more to it than just American and British English-related differences. This article should help resolve the issue. 

However, if you have any further queries, you can ask them in the comment section. We will be as quick as possible to answer them. 

Ex: They defend themselves against the invaders before realizing they should leave the country.

Although it is used as a verb and is deemed as a correct use, different guides take it as an incorrect way to use the word. However, if you want to use the verb form of the word, you should stick to “defend” instead of using “defense” as a verb.

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