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 \ -​ˈfē-​tə-​bəl How to pronounce defeatable (audio) \ 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

There are many components to a 100% run, such as defeating every boss, but one of the more time-consuming tasks involves collecting all 900 available Koroks in the game. Patricia Hernandez, The Verge, "Watching a Breath of the Wild speedrunner collect Koroks is mesmerizing," 15 Dec. 2018 After some Scottish military gains, the English defeated de Moray and Wallace, and a grueling guerrilla campaign followed. Joe Pappalardo, Popular Mechanics, "'Outlaw King' vs. 'Braveheart': Which Movie Gets Scotland Right?," 13 Nov. 2018 Eskamani ultimately won House District 47 this week, defeating her Republican opponent, Stockton Reeves, by winning 57.35% of votes, according to unofficial results posted Tuesday night on the Orange County Supervisor of Elections website. Azmia Magane, Teen Vogue, "5 Questions for Anna Eskamani, the First Iranian-American Elected to the Florida Legislature," 8 Nov. 2018 On Tuesday, Scalise won his reelection campaign, defeating Democrat Lee Ann Dugas by nearly 140,000 votes. Jane Coaston, Vox, "How white supremacist candidates fared in 2018," 7 Nov. 2018 He was elected to the Oregon Legislature and then won Hatfield’s former Senate seat, in 2008, narrowly defeating the Republican incumbent. Andrew Selsky, The Seattle Times, "Merkley eyes White House, visits early primary states," 30 Oct. 2018 To me, anything over $15 defeats the purpose of drugstore shopping. Tynan Sinks, Allure, "9 of the Best Cheap Makeup Brands That Are Seriously Underrated," 27 Sep. 2018 Both Democratic New York State Senate candidates, Ramos and Biaggi won their respective primaries, defeating entrenched (male) incumbents. Mattie Kahn, Glamour, "Campaigns Are Like Marathons—It’s Better to Run One With a Friend," 18 Sep. 2018 In Connecticut, Madison businessman and political newcomer Bob Stefanowski won the Republican primary for governor, defeating four fellow GOP contenders and setting the stage for a pivotal battle with businessman Ned Lamont in November. Gregg Re, Fox News, "Pawlenty, who called Trump 'unfit and unhinged,' derailed in comeback attempt in Minnesota; battle lines drawn in Connecticut," 15 Aug. 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Her next Grand Slam event, the Australian Open in January, ended in another first-round defeat. Ben Rothenberg, New York Times, "Serena Williams Solves the Wimbledon Wind; Sloane Stephens Does Not," 2 July 2018 The accounts include those of UMNO, the former ruling party that lost power for the first time since Malaysia’s 1957 independence in a shock election defeat in May. Najib stepped down days after the election. Ranjeetha Pakiam, Bloomberg.com, "Najib Says Freezing of 1MDB-Linked Bank Accounts Unreasonable," 30 June 2018 Messi got off only one shot in a defeat that pushed Argentina to the brink of elimination. Stephen Wade, Houston Chronicle, "Lionel Messi, Argentina beaten at World Cup, Croatia advances," 21 June 2018 And the All-American second baseman was of course happy to oblige despite the his 1-for-5 outing in Sunday’s defeat. Nick Moyle, San Antonio Express-News, "Longhorns’ season on brink," 18 June 2018 Austin Dean and Isaac Galloway each had three hits for the 'Cakes (27-31) in the defeat. Tim Grubbs, NOLA.com, "'Cakes rally comes up short in Las Vegas," 5 June 2018 The tailback was fabulous in defeat, finishing with a whopping 195 yards on 34 carries and another 42 yards through the air. Ben Ladner, SI.com, "The 10 Best National Championship Game Performances of the BCS Era," 13 July 2018 Stewart Bridges, who coaches the Fort Lauderdale squad, was very gracious in defeat. Emmett Hall, Sun-Sentinel.com, "Deerfield Beach Little League Junior Division All-Stars ready for trip to Florida's capital," 12 July 2018 Across the channel, a similarly massive audience of British fans watched on Wednesday as the Three Lions went down in defeat in extra time, losing to an impressive Croatian side 2-1. Scott Roxborough, The Hollywood Reporter, "World Cup Semifinals Score Ratings Records in Europe," 12 July 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

18 Mar 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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