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

When Deepmind’s Go-playing AI, AlphaGo, recently defeat the world Go champion, that victory was remarkable because of the sheer number of possible moves and combinations in the game. Avery Thompson, Popular Mechanics, "An AI Beat the Top Humans at a Modern Video Game Thanks to the Power of Teamwork," 16 Apr. 2019 By playing itself over and over again, AlphaGo Zero (AGZ) trained itself to play Go from scratch in just three days and soundly defeated the original AlphaGo 100 games to 0. Jennifer Ouellette, Ars Technica, "Move over AlphaGo: AlphaZero taught itself to play three different games," 6 Dec. 2018 The investigation seeks to determine whether the campaign conspired to interfere in the 2016 presidential election, in which Trump defeated Hillary Clinton. Lukas Mikelionis, Fox News, "Cohen spoke with Mueller team about Trump and his business dealings with Russia: report," 21 Sep. 2018 Serbia’s Novak Djokovic has defeated South Africa’s Kevin Anderson in a three-set match at Wimbledon’s men’s single final today. Christian Allaire, Vogue, "Novak Djokovic Defeats Kevin Anderson at Wimbledon," 15 July 2018 Twitter @kcjhoop Bulls defeat Mavericks, advance to NBA Summer League winners bracket » Wendell Carter Jr. K.c. Johnson, chicagotribune.com, "Ex-teammates Jalen Brunson and Ryan Arcidiacono square off in NBA Summer League while dismissing their doubters," 11 July 2018 In the last men’s quarterfinal, which was suspended because of darkness after the third set Monday night, 2009 US Open champion Juan Martin del Potro defeated Gilles Simon of France, 7-6 (7-1), 7-6 (7-5), 5-7, 7-6 (7-5). Howard Fendrich, BostonGlobe.com, "Serena Williams storms back to reach Wimbledon semifinals," 10 July 2018 The last successful Democratic primary challenge in Massachusetts came in 2014, when Seth Moulton defeated incumbent Democratic Rep. John Tierney in the state's 6th Congressional District. Steve Leblanc, The Christian Science Monitor, "After New York's electoral upset, eyes turn to Massachusetts," 9 July 2018 But in the wrestling world, Jordan is best known for defeating future two-time Olympic gold medalist John Smith twice in an NCAA tournament in 1985. NBC News, "Powerful GOP Rep. Jim Jordan accused of turning blind eye to sexual abuse as Ohio State wrestling coach," 3 July 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Orlando handed Toronto the biggest loss of its season, a 116-87 defeat on Dec. 28 — a game that was notable for two reasons. Tim Reynolds, The Seattle Times, "Red-hot Magic set to face Raptors in Round 1 of NBA playoffs," 12 Apr. 2019 The former adviser, Paul Stadlen, left Malaysia last year, shortly after Mr. Najib’s surprise defeat in national elections that were dominated by a multibillion-dollar corruption scandal at state investment fund 1Malaysia Development Bhd., or 1MDB. Yantoultra Ngui, WSJ, "Malaysia Orders Arrest of Ex-Leader Najib’s Former Media Adviser," 21 Feb. 2019 Sermanni said the club lacked cohesion after that defeat. Jordan Culver, Pro Soccer USA, "Orlando Pride set for rematch against Houston Dash," 10 July 2018 That same year, another fateful event happened across the country, when a rising star in the Nazi party named Adolf Hitler suffered an embarrassing defeat in Munich as his Beer Hall Putch uprising was foiled by local authorities. Alex Hollings, Popular Mechanics, "The Saturn V Story: From Nazi Roots to America's Moon Rocket," 6 Feb. 2019 The holes Donald Trump kicked in the rusty northern bit of that wall, and his coupling of an electoral-college win with a popular-vote defeat, has understandably dampened Republican enthusiasm. The Economist, "America’s electoral system gives the Republicans advantages over Democrats," 12 July 2018 For players such as Carter, the sting of defeat will linger a bit longer. Matt Calkins, The Seattle Times, "One sad day doesn’t change the solid foundation these Huskies have built," 24 Mar. 2019 But the exact margin of defeat makes a big difference even as the white working-class share of the electorate shrinks. Matthew Yglesias, Vox, "The 2018 electorate was older, whiter, and better educated than in 2016," 12 Nov. 2018 Last month, the House voted down the farm bill in an embarrassing defeat for Speaker Paul Ryan. Jon Sarlin, CNN, "House farm bill seeks to restrict food stamp benefits while allowing subsidies for billionaires," 4 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

13 May 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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