c. 1400, "serving to defend, proper for defense; of the nature of defense," from Old French defensif (14c., Modern French défensif) and directly from Medieval Latin defensivus, from defens-, past participle stem of Latin defendere (see defend). Of persons, "alert to reject criticism," from 1919. Related: Defensively; defensiveness.
As a noun, "that which defends or serves for defense," c. 1400, originally of medicines. Meaning "posture or attitude of defense" is from c. 1600.