defeat

verb
de·feat | \di-ˈfēt, dē-\

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 \-ˈfē-tə-bəl \ 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

The French defeated Croatia in the semifinals that year, which until now had been the country's best showing at the tournament. Graham Dunbar, chicagotribune.com, "Mbappe's France face Croatia's Modric for the World Cup title," 14 July 2018 Poway National defeated Encinitas 12-1, Escondido American 16-2 and Del Mar American 9-1 before losing to Encinitas National 11-5. Terry Monahan, Pomerado News, "Poway comes close to Little League district title," 12 July 2018 The Philadelphia Fusion defeated the Boston Uprising in the first match of a best-of-three playoff series in Burbank, Ca. Courtney Becker, Philly.com, "Philadelphia Fusion trounces Boston in first esports playoff game in Overwatch League," 12 July 2018 This information had the potential to derail, and quite possibly, defeat Mr. Trump. Mike Memoli /, NBC News, "Facing intense GOP criticism, FBI's Strzok says personal views didn't impact decisions," 12 July 2018 This information had the potential to derail, and quite possibly, defeat Mr. Trump. Abigail Simon, Time, "Embattled FBI Agent Peter Strzok Is Testifying About the Russia Investigation and Those Trump Texts. Here's What to Know," 12 July 2018 Connor Belcastro defeated Matt Doyle 3 and 2 in the championship match of the Connecticut Junior Amateur Thursday at the Watertown Golf Course. Christopher Hanna, courant.com, "Belcastro Takes Home CT Junior Amateur Golf Championship," 12 July 2018 In what many regarded as the 'easy side' of the draw, Croatia have defeated Denmark, Russia and England. SI.com, "Pride and Passion: Croatia's Unrelenting Fighting Spirit Continues to Carry National Hope," 12 July 2018 This information had the potential to derail, and quite possibly, defeat Mr. Trump. Erin Kelly, USA TODAY, "FBI agent Peter Strzok: My personal opinion of Trump did not affect my work," 12 July 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

After an initial defeat, backers of the SoccerCity proposal to redevelop the former Qualcomm stadium site are mounting another attack to remove the rival SDSU West initiative off the November ballot. Jennifer Van Grove, sandiegouniontribune.com, "SoccerCity continues legal action against SDSU West," 13 July 2018 After that defeat, Cameron immediately resigned as prime minister. Arthur I. Cyr, Lake County News-Sun, "Cyr: Britain’s prime minister takes charge of cabinet," 13 July 2018 The defeat eliminates the Kings (1-3) from the summer league tournament. Jason Jones, sacbee, "‘This is just the appetizer’: Harry Giles says he’s driven to improve after ejection," 11 July 2018 Eleven defeats would also tie him for the 2018 major league lead. 2. The Baltimore Sun, baltimoresun.com, "Orioles on deck: What to watch Sunday at Twins, plus lineups, broadcast info and more," 8 July 2018 Japan put up a tremendous effort at the World Cup, qualifying for the round of 16 before suffering to a 3-2 defeat against Belgium after leading 2-0. Martin Rogers, USA TODAY, "Reports: Jurgen Klinsmann a top candidate for Japan coaching job," 3 July 2018 There was much more to the shocking defeat of Rep. Joe Crowley (D-NY) at the hands of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. Matthew Yglesias, Vox, "3 winners and 2 losers from the primaries in South Carolina, New York, Utah, and Colorado," 27 June 2018 No single factor led to Mr. Crowley’s defeat, more than a half-dozen officials inside and close to his campaign said in interviews, most on the condition of anonymity. Shane Goldmacher, New York Times, "An Upset in the Making: Why Joe Crowley Never Saw Defeat Coming," 27 June 2018 Sheinin co-hosted the network's main daytime talk show Vremya Pokazhet (Time Will Show), which was partially devoted to the soccer match, which Russia lost 0-3, and to local fans' reaction to the defeat. Vladimir Kozlov, The Hollywood Reporter, "Russian Talk Show Host Faces Punishment for Swearing About World Cup Loss," 27 June 2018

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

14 Oct 2018

Look-up Popularity

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 \
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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Comments on defeat

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