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

But another vote was far more consequential: Parliament approved an amendment to May’s deal that will give them a say in what happens next if May’s Brexit deal is defeated next week. Jen Kirby, Vox, "UK Parliament just dealt a blow to Theresa May. What’s next for Brexit?," 6 Dec. 2018 Following a similar script, Washington stunned the college basketball world a year ago this week and defeated No. Percy Allen, The Seattle Times, "UW Huskies need their “A” game to snap 7-game losing streak at No. 1 Gonzaga," 5 Dec. 2018 Meanwhile in Indiana, Braun, a former state legislator who poured his own money into the race, defeated Reps. Alex Pappas, Fox News, "Morrisey pulls off upset in W.Va. Senate primary, as Indiana’s Braun and Ohio’s Renacci win nominations," 2 Oct. 2018 After defeating King Harold of England in 1066 in the Battle of Hastings, William of Normandy—aka William the Conqueror—built Battle Abbey over the battlefield in East Sussex as penance for the bloodshed. Lyndsey Matthews, Harper's BAZAAR, "Everything Prince Harry and Meghan Markle Need to Know About Sussex, England," 27 Sep. 2018 Given the recent opening of the Louis Armstrong Stadium—Andy Murray defeated James Duckworth on the new court yesterday—the organization is already well on its way. Edward Barsamian, Vogue, "Kelly Clarkson, Serena, and Rafa—Inside the 2018 USTA Foundation Opening Night Gala," 28 Aug. 2018 Spain won the 2010 title in another Europe-only final against the Netherlands, and Germany defeated Argentina in 2014 to become the first European team to win the World Cup in South America. Graham Dunbar, chicagotribune.com, "Mbappe's France face Croatia's Modric for the World Cup title," 14 July 2018 She and Verlander were married in November, a week after the Astros defeated the Los Angeles Dodgers in Game 7 of the World Series at Dodger Stadium. Stephen Ruiz, OrlandoSentinel.com, "Justin Verlander, Kate Upton expect first child," 14 July 2018 In the fight for those Virginia House seats, for example, Democratic-leaning women in the suburbs of Washington and Richmond are key to the party’s hopes of defeating incumbent Republicans Barbara Comstock and Dave Brat. Gerald F. Seib, WSJ, "Trump vs. Democratic Women: Headline Fight of the 2018 Campaign," 5 Nov. 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

The defeat doesn’t kill Bavaria’s space ambitions, though. Sonja Peteranderl, The Verge, "Bavaria’s space program shot to viral fame — but it may be in trouble," 20 Oct. 2018 These days, defeat devices are almost entirely software-based and usually quite difficult to spot. Megan Geuss, Ars Technica, "After-market car tech firm sold 363,000 emissions-cheating devices, DOJ says [updated]," 25 Sep. 2018 This includes, but is certainly not limited to, condemning the Russian interference that angled for his victory and Hilary Clinton's defeat in the 2016 presidential election. Michelle Ruiz, Vogue, "Donald Trump Doesn't Care About Democracy. He Only Cares About Himself.," 17 July 2018 The two couples sat together in the front row to watch Serena Williams face (and ultimately defeat) Karolina Pliskova in the quarter-finals. Erica Gonzales, Harper's BAZAAR, "Priyanka Chopra and Nick Jonas Had a Double Date with Sophie Turner and Joe Jonas at the US Open," 5 Sep. 2018 Before the finals of September 8 and 9, expect to witness the thrill of victory, the agony of defeat, a few unthinkable upsets, and likely some raucous behavior in the stands. Corey Seymour, Vogue, "How to Prepare for the U.S. Open? Let’s Ask a Pro," 27 Aug. 2018 One by one, the World Cup’s flashy and glamorous stories have crashed in defeat, from surging Mexico to disappointing Spain to the vanishing stars: Neymar, Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo. Bruce Jenkins, SFChronicle.com, "World Cup: France proves masterful in all phases," 10 July 2018 But fans from the other 28 countries, such as Axel, have stayed on long after their team’s defeat, to soak up the carnivalesque atmosphere and maximize time with newfound loves. Amie Ferris-rotman, Washington Post, "At World Cup, Russians embrace the world, one relationship at a time," 9 July 2018 Victory or defeat, there are always new mountains to climb. Rob Manker, Naperville Sun, "Manker: Lessons learned on ballfield sometimes bring winning and losing into perspective," 5 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

9 Dec 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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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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