• 2-minute read
  • 8th September 2020

Spelling Tips: Defense or Defence?

“Defense” and “defence” 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 USA or the UK!

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

American English: Defense

The correct spelling of this noun in American English is always “defense”:

The Dallas Cowboys’ defense crumbled in the third quarter.

The same is true of all words derived from “defense.” These include “defenseless,” “defensive,” “defensible,” and “indefensible.” For example:

The first swing left him defenseless to the counterattack.

The things she did are indefensible.

In US English, then, you’ll always need an “s” spelling for “defense” words.

British English: Defence

The “c” spelling of this word is standard in British English:

Blackburn Rovers’ defence crumbled after half time.

And the same is true of “defenceless” and “defencelessly”:

Find this useful?

Subscribe to our newsletter and get writing tips from our editors straight to your inbox.

The first swing left him defenceless to the counterattack.

These spellings are also used in Australian English, Canadian English, and other dialects influenced by British English.

However, these dialects use an “s” spelling when adding a suffix starting with “i” to “defence” (e.g., defensive, defensively, defensible, indefensible). As such, the “c” spelling is incorrect in cases like this:

The things she did are indefensible.

The things she did are indefencible.

Try to keep this in mind if you’re writing for an audience outside the USA!

Summary: Defense or Defence?

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

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

In addition, American English uses the “s” spelling for all words derived from “defense,” which makes spelling these words simple! But if you’re writing for an audience outside the USA, you will only need an “s” in words featuring a suffix that starts with “i” (e.g., defensive, defensively, indefensible).

We hope this has helped you with your spelling. And if you’d like any extra help making sure a document is error free, why not upload a writing sample for proofreading today and find out what a little editing can do?

Comments (0)

Got content that needs a quick turnaround?

Let us polish your work.

Explore our editorial business services.

More Writing Tips?
Trusted by thousands of leading
institutions and businesses

Make sure your writing is the best it can be with our expert English proofreading and editing.