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Meaning of self-defense

self-de•fense

Pronunciation: (self'di-fens', self"-), [key]
— n.
  1. the act of defending one's person when physically attacked, as by countering blows or overcoming an assailant: the art of self-defense.
  2. a claim or plea that the use of force or injuring or killing another was necessary in defending one's own person from physical attack: He shot the man who was trying to stab him and pleaded self-defense at the murder trial.
  3. an act or instance of defending or protecting one's own interests, property, ideas, etc., as by argument or strategy.
Random House Unabridged Dictionary, Copyright © 1997, by Random House, Inc., on Infoplease.