de·​feat·​ism di-ˈfē-ˌti-zəm How to pronounce defeatism (audio)
: an attitude of accepting, expecting, or being resigned to defeat
defeatist noun or adjective

Examples of defeatism in a Sentence

We must not give in to defeatism. We must be optimistic.
Recent Examples on the Web Still, even a thinker as canny as Shklar capitulated to the defeatism of the era eventually. Becca Rothfeld, Washington Post, 11 Aug. 2023 The pressure cooker of academic and career competition may have been untenable across several generations, inspiring a sweeping trend of defeatism in the country’s youngest workers. Byrachel Shin, Fortune, 29 July 2023 But, as grim as the outlook has been, the defeatism among those who oppose the right-wing coalition government in Israel has come to an end. David Remnick, The New Yorker, 22 July 2023 The committee and its work were far from apolitical, and yet to dismiss the report as merely political would be a perilous act of resignation and defeatism. David Remnick, The New Yorker, 22 Dec. 2022 Its morbid core is defeatism and fear. Doris Bittar, San Diego Union-Tribune, 14 Jan. 2022 Back then, the key Ukrainian port of Mariupol had just fallen, Ukraine was covered in mud, and Western defeatism was everywhere. Craig Hooper, Forbes, 16 Mar. 2023 Louisville AD Vince Tyra, meanwhile, declined defeatism. Tim Sullivan, The Courier-Journal, 9 Aug. 2020 Essay, December] is a prime example of climate defeatism, a misguided trend in writing about the environment that privileges pessimism over the political imperative to confront the climate crisis. Andrew Cockburn, Harper’s Magazine , 6 Jan. 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'defeatism.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


defeat entry 2 + -ism

First Known Use

1917, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of defeatism was in 1917

Dictionary Entries Near defeatism

Cite this Entry

“Defeatism.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 4 Dec. 2023.

Kids Definition


de·​feat·​ism di-ˈfēt-ˌiz-əm How to pronounce defeatism (audio)
: an attitude of expecting defeat or of accepting defeat with the belief that further effort would be useless
defeatist noun or adjective

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