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From The Collaborative International Dictionary of English v.0.48:
Defend \De*fend"\ (d[-e]*f[e^]nd"), v. t. [imp. & p. p. Defended; p. pr. & vb. n. Defending.] [F. d['e]fendre, L. defendere; de- + fendere (only in comp.) to strike; perh. akin to Gr. qei`nein to strike, and E. dint. Cf. Dint, Defense, Fend.] 1. To ward or fend off; to drive back or away; to repel. [A Latinism & Obs.] [1913 Webster] Th' other strove for to defend The force of Vulcan with his might and main. --Spenser. [1913 Webster] 2. To prohibit; to forbid. [Obs.] --Chaucer. [1913 Webster] Which God defend that I should wring from him. --Shak. 3. To repel danger or harm from; to protect; to secure against attack; to maintain against force or argument; to uphold; to guard; as, to defend a town; to defend a cause; to defend character; to defend the absent; -- sometimes followed by from or against; as, to defend one's self from, or against, one's enemies. [1913 Webster] The lord mayor craves aid . . . to defend the city. --Shak. [1913 Webster] God defend the right! --Shak. [1913 Webster] A village near it was defended by the river. --Clarendon. [1913 Webster] 4. (Law.) To deny the right of the plaintiff in regard to (the suit, or the wrong charged); to oppose or resist, as a claim at law; to contest, as a suit. --Burrill. Syn: To Defend, Protect. Usage: To defend is literally to ward off; to protect is to cover so as to secure against approaching danger. We defend those who are attacked; we protect those who are liable to injury or invasion. A fortress is defended by its guns, and protected by its wall. [1913 Webster] As birds flying, so will the Lord of hosts defend Jerusalem; defending also he will deliver it. --Is. xxxi. 5. [1913 Webster] Leave not the faithful side That gave thee being, still shades thee and protects. --Milton. [1913 Webster]