defeat

verb
de·​feat | \ di-ˈfēt How to pronounce defeat (audio) , dē- \
defeated; defeating; defeats

Definition of defeat

 (Entry 1 of 2)

transitive verb

1 : to win victory over : beat defeated their archrivals in the championship game The bill was defeated in the Senate.
2a : frustrate sense 2a(1) defeat a hope
b law : nullify defeat an estate
3 obsolete : destroy … his unkindness may defeat my life …— Shakespeare

defeat

noun

Definition of defeat (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : frustration by nullification or by prevention of success The bill suffered defeat in the Senate.
2a : an overthrow especially of an army in battle celebrate their defeat of the enemy
b : the loss of a contest his first defeat as a professional boxer
3 obsolete : destruction … upon whose property and most dear life a damned defeat was made.— Shakespeare

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Other Words from defeat

Verb

defeatable \ di-​ˈfē-​tə-​bəl How to pronounce defeat (audio) , dē-​ \ adjective

Choose the Right Synonym for defeat

Verb

conquer, vanquish, defeat, subdue, reduce, overcome, overthrow mean to get the better of by force or strategy. conquer implies gaining mastery of. Caesar conquered Gaul vanquish implies a complete overpowering. vanquished the enemy and ended the war defeat does not imply the finality or completeness of vanquish which it otherwise equals. the Confederates defeated the Union forces at Manassas subdue implies a defeating and suppression. subdued the native tribes after years of fighting reduce implies a forcing to capitulate or surrender. the city was reduced after a month-long siege overcome suggests getting the better of with difficulty or after hard struggle. overcame a host of bureaucratic roadblocks overthrow stresses the bringing down or destruction of existing power. violently overthrew the old regime

Examples of defeat in a Sentence

Verb We must be ready to defeat our enemies in battle. Our candidate defeated him in the last election. She finally found a solution to a problem that had defeated many other researchers. The bill was defeated in the state senate. Scientists from around the world are working to defeat the disease. Noun We weren't prepared for defeat. One small error could make the difference between success and defeat. After several tries we were forced to accept defeat. They celebrated their defeat of the enemy.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Introduced as kids, Spencer's Emily loses her parents during one such attack, dedicating herself to finding the means to defeat them. Brian Lowry, CNN, "'Thunder Force' teams Melissa McCarthy and Octavia Spencer in a weak superhero spoof," 9 Apr. 2021 Always treat negative reviews as learning experiences, but don’t let one or two negative comments defeat you in the presence of countless positive ones. Expert Panel, Forbes, "Nine Ways To Handle Customer Critique (And Not Take It Personally)," 9 Apr. 2021 That provides the genetic code of a virus, laying out for scientists a precise map for how to defeat it. David Heath, USA Today, "In the race to stay ahead of COVID-19 variants, the US lags globally," 7 Apr. 2021 Jodi Anderson scored 24 to lead the Cougars past the only team to defeat them during the regular season. Star Tribune, "Girls' basketball: 67-point game from Duluth Marshall's Gianna Kneepkens not enough," 31 Mar. 2021 When the Jazz have to face the better teams in the West and defeat them in best-of-seven series again and again and again. Gordon Monson, The Salt Lake Tribune, "Gordon Monson: Nobody believes in the Jazz, so their mission is to shock the world and prove it wrong," 30 Mar. 2021 Growing up, Strobel was bullied at school and vowed to not let her struggles defeat her. Devon Abelman, Allure, "Grace Strobel Knows How Good Her Skin Looks," 21 Mar. 2021 And each of us has a duty and a responsibility, as citizens, as Americans, and especially as leaders, leaders who have pledged to honor our Constitution and protect our nation, to defend the truth and defeat the lies. Jeanine Santucci, USA TODAY, "'Politics doesn't have to be a raging fire:' Read President Joe Biden's inaugural address," 20 Jan. 2021 And each of us has a duty and responsibility, as citizens, as Americans, and especially as leaders – leaders who have pledged to honor our Constitution and protect our nation — to defend the truth and to defeat the lies. Naomi Lim, Washington Examiner, "Read Biden's full inaugural speech," 20 Jan. 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun White attributed Bird’s defeat to its disruptive history as well as to the company’s use of gig labor to service its scooters. John Seabrook, The New Yorker, "The E-Scooters Loved by Silicon Valley Roll Into New York," 19 Apr. 2021 In the hours after Loeffler’s plea, at least 10 local party committees voted to condemn Gov. Brian Kemp, Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger or both for not helping overturn President Donald Trump’s November defeat. al, "Republicans talk unity in Georgia and censure Gov. Brian Kemp, others," 18 Apr. 2021 The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences is not conceding defeat. New York Times, "The Oscars Are a Week Away, but How Many Will Watch?," 18 Apr. 2021 Saturday’s loss to the Knicks was Dallas’ third straight defeat at American Airlines Center and dropped its home record to 13-13, compared to 17-12 on the road. Dallas News, "Mavericks’ season hinges on correcting an ongoing problem: Mediocrity at home," 17 Apr. 2021 But that defeat must have seemed far away when the agency first chose Useppa. Tony Perrottet, Smithsonian Magazine, "The Florida Resort That Played an Unlikely Role in the Bay of Pigs Fiasco," 16 Apr. 2021 That defeat is causing some GOP insiders in Pennsylvania to question his statewide viability. David M. Drucker, Washington Examiner, "Wealthy ex-Trump ambassador moves toward Pennsylvania Senate race," 15 Apr. 2021 The round-the-clock talkathon went on for five days—setting the record for the longest continuous session in Senate history—before LBJ conceded bleary-eyed defeat. Walter Shapiro, The New Republic, "The Case for the Talking Filibuster," 13 Apr. 2021 The pandemic eventually cost the country more than half a million lives (and counting) and contributed to Trump’s defeat by Joe Biden. Howard W. French, The New York Review of Books, "Can America Remain Preeminent?," 13 Apr. 2021

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'defeat.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of defeat

Verb

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 3

Noun

1581, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for defeat

Verb

Middle English defeten, defaiten "to ruin, destroy, nullify," in part verbal derivative of defet "disfigured, null and void (in law)," borrowed from Anglo-French defait, defet, desfet, past participle of defaire, desfaire "to undo, put an end to, destroy, nullify," from de-, des- de- + faire "to do, make," going back to Latin facere; in part borrowed from Anglo-French defeter, derivative of defet — more at fact

Noun

in part noun derivative of defeat entry 1, in part borrowed from Middle French defaite, noun derivative from feminine of defait, past participle of defaire, desfaire "to undo, destroy, kill" — more at defeat entry 1

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Time Traveler for defeat

Time Traveler

The first known use of defeat was in the 15th century

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Statistics for defeat

Last Updated

21 Apr 2021

Cite this Entry

“Defeat.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/defeat. Accessed 22 Apr. 2021.

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More Definitions for defeat

defeat

verb

English Language Learners Definition of defeat

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: to win a victory over (someone or something) in a war, contest, game, etc.
: to cause (someone or something) to fail
: to control or overcome (something)

defeat

noun

English Language Learners Definition of defeat (Entry 2 of 2)

: failure to succeed or to win
: the act of winning a victory over someone or something

defeat

verb
de·​feat | \ di-ˈfēt How to pronounce defeat (audio) \
defeated; defeating

Kids Definition of defeat

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : to win victory over The champs defeated their rivals handily.
2 : to cause to fail or be destroyed The bill was defeated in Congress.

defeat

noun

Kids Definition of defeat (Entry 2 of 2)

: loss of a contest or battle
de·​feat

Legal Definition of defeat

1a : to render null third parties will defeat an attached but “unperfected” security interest— J. J. White and R. S. Summers
b : to prevent or undo the effectiveness or establishment of defeat jurisdiction defendant took stand and defeated intoxication defenseNational Law Journal
2a : to prevail over
b : to thwart the claim of defeat creditors an intent to defeat the surviving spouse of his…elective shareTennessee Code Annotated

Other Words from defeat

defeat noun

History and Etymology for defeat

Anglo-French defait, past participle of defaire to undo, defeat, from Old French deffaire desfaire, from de-, prefix marking reversal of action + faire to do

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