Should You Use Defense Or Defence?

You may often see a word written in two ways in English writing. With this, you may wonder if the spellings indicate different meanings or if one spelling pertains to a certain writing style. In this article, we will talk more about the differences and usage of defense and defence. 

A man with his arms up in defence with the words "Defense or Defence?

Differences Between Defense And Defence

In short, both spellings are correct. Similarly, defence and defense mean the same thing. In essence, the only difference between them is in one letter, and most of that boils down to the locations in which they are used geographically. 

In American-English writing, it is usually customary to write defense, and it is pretty rare to find it spelled the other way. For instance, an American may write a sentence such as:

  • In my defense, I thought that the snacks were free! 

In contrast, British-English writing rules usually call for the word to be spelled as defence. For instance, someone spelling in this style would write:

  • In my defence, I thought that the snacks were free! 

This simple difference also carries over in other forms of the word, such as defenseless, defenseman, or defenselessly, where Americans usually keep the spelling with the “s.” At the same time, Brits usually opt for the spelling with a “c.” When a suffix with an -i is added (such as -ive or –ible), both writing styles usually tend to keep the spelling with an “s.” 

Here are some example sentences showing the spelling when a suffix with an -i is added: 

  • The coach loved him as a player because he kept the best defensive position 
  • The jury opted in favor of the defendant because he made the most defensible arguments 

In American English, defense can also be used as a verb. Some styles may disagree with this, but you can get away with this usage in most informal situations. This is a common use when talking about sports. For instance, an American may say something along the lines of:

  • The chess player defenses against his opponent’s attacks 
  • The football team defenses against the opposing frontline men

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