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Defence vs. Defense

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The words defence and defense can be confusing for those not sure of their differences, and not knowing which to use can cause a writer to second-guess his or her work, even though there might not be anything wrong with it. Do these words have different meanings or different functions in a sentence? Are they just variants of the same word? In this post, we will answer each of these questions so that you will never again have to second-guess yourself while writing either defence or defense.


Defence originated from Middle English: from Old French defens, from late Latin defensum (neuter), defensa (feminine), past participles of defendere ‘defend’.

Defence as noun:

Defence is used as a noun in English language where it means the action of defending from or resisting attack.

Methods of defence against this kind of attack.

The case presented by or on behalf of the party accused of a crime or being sued in a civil lawsuit.

The farmer's defence was that he intended only to wound the thief.

In sport, the action or role of defending one's goal or wicket against the opposition is called defence.

Wolves were pressed back into defence.

Use of Defence:

Defence (spelled with a “c”) is the preferred spelling of the word in British English. If you find yourself writing to a primarily British audience or for a British publication, this is the correct spelling for you.


For example, Fowler’s, a well-known British usage guide, lists defence as the preferred British English spelling.

Use of Defense:

Defense (spelled with an “s”) is the preferred spelling of the word in American English. If you find yourself writing to a primarily American audience or for and publication in the United States, defense is the correct spelling for you.


The Redskins are last in the NFL in defense, giving up an average of 394.8 yards per game. [Washington Post]

Schools in Southern Section Division 1AA had better start preparing for Etiwanda’s man-to-man defense. [Los Angeles Times]

A senior U.S. defense department official says China’s military buildup could turn the Asian regional security balance upside down. [Voice of America]

Defence or defense:

Defence and Defense are both nouns, and they have a few different meanings. Is it defense or defence? While these words have the same meaning, they are spelled differently in different regions. It’s important that you keep your audience in mind when using defense vs. defence. Defence is the British spelling and has a “C” in it. Think of this “C” as representing the Royal Crown of the United Kingdom. Defense is the American spelling and has an “S” in it. Think of this “S” as representing the word “States” in United States.

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"Defence vs. Defense." STANDS4 LLC, 2017. Web. 17 Nov. 2017. <>.

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