• 2-minute read
  • 8th September 2020

Spelling Tips: Defence or Defense?

‘Defence’ and ‘defense’ are variant spellings of a word meaning ‘protection from attack or criticism’). But which should you use in your writing? The answer may depend on whether you’re from the UK or USA!

Check out our guide below to be sure you can spell this word correctly.

British English: Defence

The correct spelling of this noun in British English is always ‘defence’:

Blackburn Rovers’ defence crumbled after half time.

The same is true of several words derived from ‘defence’, including ‘defenceless’ and ‘defencelessly’. For example:

The first swing left him defenceless to the counterattack.

These spellings are also used in Australian English.

American English: Defense

The ‘s’ spelling of this word is standard in American English:

The Dallas Cowboys’ defense crumbled in the third quarter.

And the same is true of ‘defenseless’ and ‘defenselessly’:

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The first swing left him defenseless to the counterattack.

If you are writing for a US audience, then, these are the spellings to use!

Defensive, Defensively and Defensible

Always use an ‘s’ spelling when adding a suffix starting with ‘i’ to this based word (e.g. defensive, defensively, defensible, indefensible). This applies in both British and American English. For instance:

The things she did are indefensible.

The things she did are indefencible.

As shown above, the ‘c’ spelling is incorrect in cases like this.

Summary: Defence or Defense?

These terms are different spellings of the same word, but it’s important to use the right one for your dialect. Remember:

  • Defence is the standard spelling in British English.
  • Defense is the standard spelling in American English.

In British English, the only time you’ll need the ‘s’ spelling is when adding a suffix that starts with ‘i’ (e.g. defensive, defensively, defensible, indefensible). And if you’d like any extra help with the spelling in a document, why not upload a free sample for proofreading today?

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