defense = verb

Fri Nov 11 01:49:35 UTC 2005

        I'm happy to report that the grating "defensed the heights of
Bunker Hill" is indeed a typo for "defended."  "Defense" as a verb
doesn't seem to have made much headway in the legal community.

John Baker

-----Original Message-----
From: American Dialect Society [mailto:ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU] On Behalf
Of Laurence Horn
Sent: Thursday, November 10, 2005 8:28 PM
Subject: Re: defense = verb

At 2:15 PM -0800 11/10/05, FRITZ JUENGLING wrote:
>Bill, where have you been? :)  I've been hearing this for years from
>sportscasters. So much, that it does not even bother me anymore (I love

>Big Brother).  If I remember correctly Bob Costas says it, but I might
>be imagining that.
>>>>  Bill.Mullins at US.ARMY.MIL 11/10/05 01:01PM >>>
>"Clausen, Oaks Christian lighting up defenses"  By Christopher Lawlor,
>USA TODAY  11/8/2005 Pg. 2C
>  " "We're more balanced on offense this season." [Marc] Tyler says.
>"It's hard to defense us." "

I've been hearing it for quite a while too, so I checked Nexis, which
has cites back to 1977.  Most are indeed from sports contexts, but not
all.  Here's Justice Rehnquist, quoted NYT June 10, 1977, A1:

  Justice William H. Rehnquist dissented with an invocation of the
memory of "those who valiantly but vainly defensed the heights of Bunker
Hill in 1775" and of those "brave men on both sides" who shed blood "at
Shiloh, Gettysburg, and Cold Harbor."

He was, as you probably guessed, explaining his dissent from a 7-2
verdict overturning as unconstitutional a New York state ban on the sale
of contraceptives to those under 16.

Of course, this might have been a typo for "defended"; a number of the
early, especially non-sports related cites (e.g. "a defensed
scientist"), clearly are.

This is the earliest cite I found, from a story about the U. of Maryland
women's basketball team:

The Washington Post
  February 12, 1977
  SECTION: Sports; C1

  HEADLINE: Terp Women Progress on Intricacies But Continue to Lag on
  Motivation a Hurdle for Women Terps

This year's Maryland team has five man-to-man offenses and three zone
offenses. The Terrapins can free-lance or they can switch to a
disciplined patterns. On defense, they can press, they can trap, paly
man-to-man or fall back into a towering zone.

  "And we still have a long way to go," said Weller. "This is the first
time many of the girls have played in such a structured atmosphere. So
sometimes we are just too mechanical. Instead of adapting to the
situation, we want to run out the plays just like they are diagramed,
even if they're being defensed perfectly."


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