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What’s the Difference Between “Defense” and “Defence”?

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In English, some words are spelled differently depending on the dialect. That’s the case with “defense” and “defence.” We’ll explain which word you should use and provide example sentences.

Defence or defense: Which is correct? Find out below.
“Defense” or “Defence:” Do you know which is the correct spelling?
What’s the Difference Between “Defence” and “Defense”?

Defence and defense are the same word spelled differently. Defence is the correct spelling if you’re writing in British English, whereas defense is the correct spelling if you’re writing in American English.

  • They had no defence for the accusations. (British English)
  • The defense played well, but the offense played horribly. (American English)

Is It “Defence” or “Defense”?

If you’re wondering which is the correct spelling when it comes to defense or defence, you’re not alone. In your defense, proper spelling depends on which English dialect you’re writing in.

In British English, defence is the correct spelling. If you’re writing in American English, it’s defense.

My lawyer expected the defence to take the plea bargain.
Defense was the first thing I learned in my martial arts class.

But what about other words that are derived from defense (or defence)? We’ll review these words below.

American English: Defense

In General American English, defense is spelled with an “s,” regardless of which prefix or suffix is added to it: indefensible, defensive, defenseless, defensible.

What the company did to its employees was indefensible.
She was very defensive when we gave her suggestions.
I felt defenseless in the attack.
Not every action is defensible.
When it comes to defence or defence, correct spelling depends on which English dialect you're writing in.
Mel Brooks is an American comedian and filmmaker, which is why “defense” is spelled with an “s” in the quote above. 

British English: Defence

In British Standard English, defenceless and defenceslessly are written with a “c.”

She felt defenceless against her employer’s false accusations.
The pride of lions hunted the defencelessly fleeing antelope.

However, if the suffix added starts with an “i,” then an “s” is used instead of a “c.”

Their morale was boosted after a strong defencive performance.

Their morale was boosted after a strong defensive performance.

The brothers were thinking of a more defencible excuse as to why they were late to their sister’s birthday party.

The brothers were thinking of a more defensible excuse as to why they were late to their sister’s birthday party.

Defense vs. Defence Recap

Remember: in American English, defense (and all other words derived from it) is always spelled with an “s.”

In British English (and other dialects influenced by it like Canadian, Australian, etc.), defence is always spelled with a “c,” except when the suffix begins with an “i.” In that case, use an “s.”

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