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Published by at March 15th, 2024 , Revised On March 22, 2024

Defence Vs. Defense: Difference & Examples

Most people think that defence and defense are two different words. Well, that’s not right!

Like many things in the English language, the answer lies in dialects and regional variations. While both spellings are technically correct, their usage depends on the specific type of English you’re using:

SpellingCommonly used in the UK, Australia, and other Commonwealth countries.Commonly used in American English.
UsageGenerally used to refer to protection or the act of defending against harm or danger.Generally used to refer to protection or the act of defending against harm or danger.
ExampleThe army provided a strong defence against the enemy’s attack.The defense attorney presented compelling evidence in court.
  • British English: In British English and its variants spoken in countries like Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa, “defence” is the preferred and standard spelling.
  • American English: On the other hand, American English favors “defense” and considers it the correct way to spell the word.

Historical Perspective 

This difference stems from the historical evolution of the English language. American English, influenced by Noah Webster’s dictionary in the 18th century, streamlined spellings by removing certain silent letters, hence “defense” instead of “defence.”

However, it’s important to understand that both spellings are accepted and understood globally. Choosing the correct one depends on the context and the target audience.

Examples Of Defence Vs. Defense

Defence Defense
The country invested heavily in its defence system. The country invested heavily in its defense system.
The football team’s strong defence helped them win the game. The football team’s strong defense helped them win the game.
The lawyer presented a compelling defence argument in court against the offence. The lawyer presented a compelling defense argument in court.
The castle’s sturdy walls served as a formidable defence against invaders. The castle’s sturdy walls served as a formidable defense against invaders.
He used self-defence techniques to protect himself from the attacker. The school offers workshops on self-defense for students’ safety.
The military conducted defence drills to prepare for potential threats. The military conducted defense drills to prepare for potential threats.

When In Doubt, Follow The Local Preference

If you’re unsure which spelling to use, it is always safe to follow the conventions of the region you’re writing for. Here’s a quick guide:

  • Writing for a British audience: Use “defence.”
  • Writing for an American audience: Use “defense.”
  • Unsure about the audience: If you’re unsure about the target audience, “defense” is generally considered a more globally recognized spelling. However, in academic writing or formal contexts, it’s always best to err on the side of caution and check with your editor or publication guidelines.

The same guidelines need to be followed for self defence vs self defense. 

Defence Vs. Defense Meaning

Regardless of the chosen spelling, both “defence” and “defense” share the same core meaning: the act of protecting something from harm or attack. This meaning can be applied in various contexts, including:

  • Military: Protecting a country or territory from invasion.
  • Legal: Presenting an argument in court to prove innocence or mitigate charges.
  • Sports: Preventing the opposing team from scoring.
  • Personal: Taking steps to safeguard oneself from physical or emotional harm.

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Words With Similar Spelling Variations

The difference between “defence” and “defense” is just one example of how spelling variations exist in the English language. Here are some other common examples:

Understanding these variations and choosing the appropriate spelling can enhance your writing and demonstrate your awareness of different English dialects.

Remember: Language is constantly evolving, and regional variations are what enrich the tapestry of the English language. By understanding the subtle differences between spellings like “defence” and “defense,” you can become a more confident and considerate communicator.

Frequently Asked Questions

Both “defence” and “defense” are correct, but their usage depends on the English variant being employed. “Defence” is British English, while “defense” is American English. Stick to the variant corresponding to your audience or region to ensure clarity and conformity with standard spelling conventions.

In the UK, the correct spelling is “defence.” This spelling follows the conventions of British English. Whether used in the context of military protection or legal arguments, “defence” is the preferred and standard spelling in British English publications, distinguishing it from the American English variant, “defense.”

In Canada, both “defence” and “defense” are accepted spellings. However, Canadian English tends to follow British conventions, making “defence” more common. Nevertheless, due to Canada’s linguistic diversity and influences from both British and American English, either spelling may be encountered in Canadian publications.

“Defense” is the preferred American English spelling, while “defence” is the British English variant. The choice depends on regional conventions or personal preference. However, in the context of “school defense” or “school defence,” both are acceptable, with “defense” being more common in American English and “defence” in British English.

“Defence” is the preferred spelling according to the Oxford English Dictionary, commonly used in British English. However, it’s worth noting that in American English, “defense” is the standard spelling. The choice depends on adherence to British or American English conventions, with Oxford English favoring “defence.”