defense = verb

Laurence Horn laurence.horn at YALE.EDU
Fri Nov 11 02:24:26 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

That's nice to know.  I suspected as much, but there was a small part
of me that wondered if Justice Rehnquist just got carried away
pondering the reaction of our brave heroes of Bunker Hill and
Gettysburg to the installation of condom dispensers on the hallowed


>-----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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