on/onto the defensive

on the defensive

weary and ready to defend oneself. John goes on the defensive when his athletic ability is questioned. The child was on the defensive when questioned about cheating.
See also: defensive, on

on the defensive

Prepared for withstanding aggression or attack, as in The debate team's plan was to keep their opponents on the defensive, or This teacher put students on the defensive about their mistakes. [c. 1600]
See also: defensive, on

on/onto the deˈfensive

acting in a way that shows that you expect to be attacked or criticized; having to defend yourself: Their questions about the money put her on the defensive.Warnings of an enemy attack forced the troops onto the defensive. OPPOSITE: on the offensive
See also: defensive, on

on the defensive

Prepared to withstand or counter aggression or attack.
See also: defensive, on