Defence Or Defense – British vs. American English

06.11.23 British English vs. American English Time to read: 3min

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English is widely spoken across the globe, with two primary forms, British English vs. American English, each having its unique vocabulary and slight spelling variations. For example, “defence/defense” represents two spellings of the same word. In this article, we’ll explore how to maintain consistency in academic writing amidst these linguistic differences. And just to clarify it, “defence” or “defense,” in my defense, both are correct, depending on your English preference!

“Defence” or “defense”

Both “defence” and “defense” are English terms that function as nouns in the English language. The difference between them is that the British variant is spelled with a “c” and the American with an “s”. The term is used to refer to the act of protecting or defending something, the legal argument made by an individual facing criminal charges, and a strategic role in sports designed to thwart an adversary’s scoring endeavors.

Defence or Defense UK flag

British English


Defence or Defense US flag

American English


Both “defence” and “defense” are correct, but their usage depends on the variation of English you are using:

  • “Defense” is the preferred spelling in American English
  • “Defence” is the preferred spelling in British English

This difference in spelling only partially applies to the inflected forms of the word. However, you should ensure consistency in the variant you’re using based on your intended audience.

Note: “Defense” is used in the US, while “defence” is used in the UK.

Examples of using “defence” and “defense”

The following examples will clarify the distinction between “defence” and “defense” in British English and American English.

Defence-or-defense-examples UK flag
  • The castle’s defence was impenetrable.
  • She argued in favour of increasing the budget for national defence.
  • The team’s defence strategy was to maintain a solid formation.
Defence-or-defense-examples US flag
  • The castle’s defense was impenetrable.
  • She argued in favor of increasing the budget for national defense.
  • The team’s defense strategy was to maintain a solid formation.

“Defence” or “defense” as an adjective

The word defensive (with an “s”) refers to a word that is designed for protection. It can also be used to describe someone who is likely to face criticism.

The spelling distinction applies to related words like “defenceless” or “defenseless,” but versions of defence/defense with a suffix beginning with “i” are spelled with an “s” in both UK and US English (e.g., defensive, defensiveness, defendable). “Defencive” is never correct.

The following examples will demonstrate the usage of the word:

Defence-or-defense-defensive UK
  • She got defensive during the discussion.
  • Their defensive strategy was strong.
  • The defensive fortifications held firm.
Defence-or-defense-defensive US


Both terms are correct, so the choice between “defence” and “defense” depends on which variant of English you’re using.

  • British English: “in my defence”
  • American English: “in my defense”

No, the pronunciation is the same for both words. They are both pronounced as: /dɪˈfɛns/

The difference is primarily a matter of regional spelling conventions; both words mean the same thing and can be used as nouns describing protection or strategies to guard against harm or danger.

  • British English: “defense”
  • American English: “defence”

Both words have the same meaning, and they refer to the act of protecting or guarding against harm, danger, or attack. They can also refer to the strategies, mechanisms, or measures put in place to provide this protection.

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