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

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

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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

Communist forces took power after defeating Chiang Kai-shek’s Nationalist army in a civil war. BostonGlobe.com, "Flying activities that affect flight safety are prohibited in seven of the capital city’s 16 districts from Sept. 15 to Oct. 1, according to a notice posted Sunday on the Beijing municipal government’s website. The banned activities also include flying balloons and lanterns.," 16 Sep. 2019 Cal is also 3–0 after defeating North Texas, 23–17, and Arizona took down Texas Tech, 28–14. Joan Niesen, SI.com, "Winners and Losers of Week 3 of the College Football Season," 15 Sep. 2019 Osaka — who represents Japan — made headlines after defeating Serena Williams in last year’s contentious open final. Georgia Slater, PEOPLE.com, "Coco Gauff ‘Can’t Thank’ Naomi Osaka ‘Enough’ for Including Her in Interview After U.S. Open Loss," 13 Sep. 2019 After defeating incumbent Loretta Spencer in a runoff in 2008, Battle has twice sailed to re-election with more than 80 percent of the vote. Paul Gattis | Pgattis@al.com, al, "Huntsville Mayor Tommy Battle sets announcement, expected to run for 4th term," 11 Sep. 2019 Friendswood has permitted just one touchdown through two weeks after defeating Dayton, 42-0, and Clear Brook, 19-7, this past Saturday. Houston Chronicle, "Football: Week 3 area high school capsule previews," 10 Sep. 2019 Newman, of La Grange, came within 2,150 votes of defeating Lipinksi, the 14-year congressman from Western Springs, in last year’s Democratic primary. Rick Pearson, chicagotribune.com, "Democratic presidential contender Elizabeth Warren endorses Marie Newman in her run against U.S. Rep. Dan Lipinski," 9 Sep. 2019 After defeating Rice to open the season, the Black Knights travel this weekend to play No. 7 Michigan (Noon ET, FOX) in a game that will help determine whether this team reaches its preseason goals. Paul Myerberg, USA TODAY, "With a program rebuilt, Army ready to make more history as when it visits No. 7 Michigan," 5 Sep. 2019 And that’s exactly what Naomi Osaka gave tennis fans after defeating Coco Gauff in the third round of the U.S. Open on Saturday. Megan Mccluskey, Time, "People Are Absolutely Here for Naomi Osaka Consoling Coco Gauff After Beating Her at the U.S. Open," 3 Sep. 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

More than 350,000 men were forced to work on the railroad — 63,000 of them were prisoners of war captured in the Fall of Singapore in 1942, the greatest military defeat in the long history of the British empire. Carl Nolte, SFChronicle.com, "Yes, she’s a Fisherman’s Wharf tourist attraction. But her story could make you cry," 14 Sep. 2019 The president enjoys wide popularity within his own party, but a GOP defeat in a red-leaning state could portend trouble for his reelection campaign. Jonathan Lemire, Fortune, "Trump Uses North Carolina Campaign Rally to Slam ‘American-Hating Left’," 10 Sep. 2019 Ed led Labour to an election defeat in 2015, and was replaced by Jeremy Corbyn. Jenny Anderson, Quartz, "In Britain, even the prime minister’s family is falling apart over Brexit," 5 Sep. 2019 Atascocita already has one impressive victory against a Katy ISD team, handing Taylor a 69-7 defeat in Week 1. Marcus Gutierrez, Houston Chronicle, "Katy, Atascocita football produced a classic last fall," 4 Sep. 2019 Despite eight goals and five assists in 24 league games this year, Quintero has suffered from miscues, most recently a turnover that led to Sporting Kansas City’s goal in Minnesota’s 1-0 defeat in MLS play Thursday. Andy Greder, Twin Cities, "Minnesota United drops star Darwin Quintero from U.S. Open Cup lineup," 27 Aug. 2019 There have been setbacks of late, including the loss of coalition partners and defeats in three high-profile provincial elections in December. Washington Post, "Your Guide to India’s Upcoming General Election," 18 Sep. 2019 Despite these battlefield defeats, sleeper cells have continued to launch attacks in both Iraq and Syria. Fox News, "ISIS leader calls for ‘caliphate soldiers’ to free detainees from camps, continue attacks," 17 Sep. 2019 But with the Seminoles and Hokies struggling, Miami trying to recover from an 0-2 start under first-year coach Manny Diaz and preseason darling Syracuse dusting itself off after back-to-back blowout defeats, the pecking order could be changing. C.j. Doon, baltimoresun.com, "College football overreaction index, Week 3: Same old Maryland?; ACC is at the bottom of the Power 5," 16 Sep. 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 3

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 2019

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 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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