To be honest, I can't grasp the meaning of the word "defensive". According to a dictionary, they define about "defensive" that behaving in a way that shows that you feel that people are criticizing you. the example sentences of the word are below.

  1. Don't ask him about his plans—he just gets defensive.

  2. He is extremely defensive about his work

  3. Whenever anyone mentions women's rights, he gets rather defensive.

I conceive that "defensive is a little similar to "rigid".

What do you think of that? Does anyone who can explain the meaning of the word in detail like feelings?

  • Are you asking about offensive or defensive? The meaning of defensive is 'behaving as though you are defending yourself (against criticism)'. If you are offensive you are (metaphorically) attacking someone. Aug 24, 2021 at 10:02
  • @KateBunting so I want to know what kind of behaving it is.
    – bak1936
    Aug 24, 2021 at 10:20
  • 1
    Well, imagine for example that someone innocently asks you why you did something. You think they mean that you shouldn't have done it, so you start angrily explaining your reasons - when in reality they were just showing a friendly interest. Aug 24, 2021 at 12:25

2 Answers 2


People are defensive when they feel threatened.

Most of the negative senses you refer to are about behaviour that shows a person starts acting as if they are being threatened when they are not. Such behaviour might be "being stubborn", "not answering questions clearly", "blaming other people", "making accusations against other people", "not engaging with the problem".

Consider a software developer. His boss wants to discuss options for making a certain part of his code run faster. But when boss asks him about this he starts saying "You can't change that code" and "I can't fix it because I've got other tasks now" or "It is the API designer's fault that the callbacks are inefficient", "it's your fault for not assigning me sufficient resources" etc etc etc.

Why is the developer behaving like this - perhaps he thinks he is being blamed and will lose his job, so instead of working productively he is being defensive and that isn't helping.

Some people get defensive very quickly, and it usually is a problem in interpersonal relations, since the defensive person is more concerned with "blame" and "who is at fault" rather than fixing a problem.


The meaning of "defensive" is when you feel like someone is or trying to harm you with words and you become defensive towards him/her by protecting yourself.

  • Gevogyan It seems to exist another definition;used or intended to protect someone or something against attack.
    – bak1936
    Aug 24, 2021 at 11:55
  • thanks for clarification, didn't know that Aug 25, 2021 at 10:05

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