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

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
2 obsolete : destruction upon whose property and most dear life a damned defeat was made— Shakespeare
3a : 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

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Other Words from defeat

Verb

defeatable \ di-​ˈfē-​tə-​bəl How to pronounce defeatable (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

Oregon’s climate bill, the highest-profile environmental bill in the 2019 Legislature, was defeated after a polarizing end-of-session walkout by 11 Republican senators. oregonlive.com, "Everything Oregon’s Legislature did -- and didn’t do -- for the environment," 3 July 2019 An outgoing Denver councilman who was defeated last month in a race that often centered on his support for development has been hired by a construction company. Justin Wingerter, The Denver Post, "Construction company hires Denver Councilman Albus Brooks," 2 July 2019 Germany and France, whose squads were both defeated in the quarterfinals — by Sweden and the USA, respectively —went out on a high ratings-wise. Scott Roxborough, The Hollywood Reporter, "Women's World Cup Smashes Global Ratings Records," 1 July 2019 The move was eventually defeated by public outcry, including protests led by, most prominently, the novelist and future Nobel Prize winner Mario Vargas Llosa. Daniel Alarcón, The New Yorker, "What Led Peru’s Former President to Take His Own Life?," 1 July 2019 Those measures, which included one based on a proposal put forward by Mr. Trump, were all defeated. Louise Radnofsky, WSJ, "Supreme Court to Review Trump Effort to Cancel DACA," 28 June 2019 But the House Democrats’ left flank was defeated by the party’s moderates. Emily Cochrane, BostonGlobe.com, "In defeat, Pelosi agrees to pass Senate border bill without House conditions," 27 June 2019 The amendment could still be defeated in the Senate, which Republicans control 53 to 47, or Trump could veto the appropriations bill. Jon Brodkin, Ars Technica, "House votes to block Ajit Pai’s plan to kill San Francisco broadband law," 27 June 2019 Facial recognition can be defeated by wearing sunglasses or a disguise to break up the person’s facial profile. Kyle Mizokami, Popular Mechanics, "The Pentagon Can ID Your Heartbeat Using Laser Beams," 27 June 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Mitsotakis had not been expected to lead the party, but was elected president of New Democracy in 2016, following four straight election defeats at national, local, and European elections. Washington Post, "Greek election front runner keeps campaign unusually low-key," 5 July 2019 This should be an exciting encounter between two sides who won't want to end what has been a successful tournament with successive defeats. SI.com, "Women's World Cup Preview - England vs Sweden: Where to Watch, Team News, Predictions and More," 5 July 2019 Johnson is 1-7 in third rounds of Grand Slam events, with six of those defeats coming to top-10 players. Sam Farmer, latimes.com, "Wimbledon notes: Steve Johnson faces a big test in Kei Nishikori," 5 July 2019 The second consecutive shutout loss to the Reds left the Brewers with no runs over the final 23 innings of the series, going back to the sixth inning of the 11-inning defeat Tuesday night. Tom Haudricourt, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Reds 1, Brewers 0: Once again, no fireworks for the offense against Cincinnati pitchers," 4 July 2019 Background: Obama tried to unseat Rush back in the 2000 Democratic primary; Rush delivered what would be the future president’s only electoral defeat. Lisa Donovan, chicagotribune.com, "The Spin: Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg tells Rainbow/PUSH audience that racial inequality, left unaddressed, ‘will upend the American project'," 1 July 2019 Judges in Kentucky have handed down another legal defeat to the unvaccinated teenager who sued his local health department for banning him from school and extracurricular activities amid a chickenpox outbreak earlier this year. Beth Mole, Ars Technica, "Anti-vax teen that fought ban amid chickenpox outbreak loses in court—again," 1 July 2019 The total absence of violence or even confrontation was critical in smoothing the transition of power that followed once Sargsyan had admitted defeat. Tom Ball, The New Republic, "How to Stage a Successful Revolution," 1 July 2019 Both sides demand not only to win but also to preside over the other side’s defeat. K. V. Turley, National Review, "Border Posts and Border Ghosts," 1 July 2019

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 1

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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Statistics for defeat

Last Updated

8 Jul 2019

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Time Traveler for defeat

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

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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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More from Merriam-Webster on defeat

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with defeat

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for defeat

Spanish Central: Translation of defeat

Nglish: Translation of defeat for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of defeat for Arabic Speakers

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