Defence and defense are different spellings of the same word; yet belong to different forms of the English language. Defense is used in American English, and defence is used in British English, which spans Australian and Canadian English. It is important to maintain spelling consistency within a piece of writing. If you choose to use American English as your reference then you must continue using American English spellings; conversely you must do the same with British English. If you start with defense in an article or letter, don’t use defence elsewhere in the document.
While the two variations span derivatives of defence/defense defences/defenses and defenceless/defenseless, the words defensive, defensiveness and defensively have an “s” in both American and British English. Below are examples of how defense/defence might be used in your writing.
Examples of Defense – American English
- The team’s defense performed terribly this afternoon.
- China’s military defense is becoming a threat to the US says state senator Lixicle.
- In his defense he should be presumed innocent until proven guilty.
Examples of Defence – British English
- Arsenal’s defence fell apart as the Spurs strikers went on a rampage
- The country’s defence budget was given a considerable boost by the new government.
- The defence lawyer performed marvelously at the trial.
As American English spread its wings globally, the usage of “defense” became wider than defence, and the spelling surpassed the British English version that enjoyed notoriety back in the 1900s. It should be noted that the English have no intention of giving up their original spelling, despite the broader usage of “defense.”