On defense


Senior Member
Hi guys,

Another question derived from an American movie.
How would you explain in other words the expression on defense in the example:

-You're responsible for what happened! I'm on defense because I was at Julie's and you knew that from the start. So I could not watch out the baby!

  • AlanT

    Senior Member
    American English
    Hi Nico,

    "I have to defend myself..."

    We usually use the term "on defense" in sports. One team is "defense" and the other is "offense".

    Sorry, Nicodi, it's not possible to interpret the meaning of the phrase without knowing more about the situation.

    To me, "I'm on defense" sounds like a reference to sports, specifically to American football, where each team has an offense - the side that tries to score - and a defense - the side that tries to stop them.

    How that might fit into this scenario is unclear given the lack of context.

    Is it possible that the person said, "I'm on the defensive"? That's an expression we use when we are put at a disadvantage or feel that we are being attacked or at risk of being attacked or blamed for something. Again, there's no way to say without a more complete context.


    Senior Member
    Thank you both of you.
    To give more context, two parents are arguing because they both forgot to look after the baby for one moment, and te latter resulted hurt because he slipped out of the cradle and tripped over a toy on the floor.

    I hope I'm clear enough...
    Long time no speak English!

    Thank you again;)
    Sorry to be unhelpful again, but the phrase still doesn't make sense to me. It sounds like the father is saying that he can't be blamed because he was away from home, and his wife knew it. Unfortunately, I can't think of how "on defense" or any phrase that sounds like it could fit the dialog you describe. I hope others can help.


    Senior Member
    English (US)
    The sentence makes sense to me. It's a sports reference that can be used in everyday scenarios outside of sports like the one you described. Like AlanT said, it means the husband (or wife, whichever it is) has to defend himself against the spouse's accusations.

    It did sound kind of funny to me until I realized I was reading "defense" in the wrong pronunciation though. Note that here the stress is on the first syllable: "DEE-fense".