Let’s dispel a spelling mystery. It’s defense against defence, and if you think it’s one of the British English versus American English things—you might be onto something.
Defence vs. defense: What’s the difference?
The difference between defence and defense is the spelling guidelines of British and American English.
- defence with a c is the correct spelling for British English.
- defense with an s is the correct spelling for American English
Defence and defense are both correct ways to spell the same word. The difference between them, the fact that one’s spelled with a c and the other with an s, comes down to the part of the world in which they are used. In the United States, people spell it with an s—defense. An American would write something like this:
Of course our team won; we had vastly superior defense.
In parts of the world where British English is used, they use the spelling with a c—defence. A Brit would write:
There’s no defence that could have stopped that attack.
This difference in spelling carries over to the inflected forms of the word only partially. In words like “defenceless,” “defencelessly,” or “defenceman,” the British spelling retains its c, instead of changing it for an American s—”defenseless,” “defenselessly,” or “defenseman.” But when the suffix added to the word begins with an i, in both American and in British English the resulting word is spelled with an s:
It should also be noted that you might come across the word defense being used as a verb. This is particularly common in the US when talking about sports, when”defend against” is used: