de·​feat·​ism | \ di-ˈfē-ˌti-zəm How to pronounce defeatism (audio) , dē- \

Definition of defeatism

: an attitude of accepting, expecting, or being resigned to defeat

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Other Words from defeatism

defeatist \ di-​ˈfē-​tist How to pronounce defeatism (audio) , dē-​ \ 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 The relatively rapid devolution in the debate reflects both the readily apparent realities of it and the increasing defeatism and partisanship in Washington. Washington Post, "Live updates The 10 Boulder victims are remembered fondly," 24 Mar. 2021 The Grammys rubber-stamp this defeatism as another means of social division. Armond White, National Review, "Billie Eilish’s Teen Angst and Alienation," 24 Mar. 2021 Sam’s feelings of defeatism and applaud his ultimate success. Globe Staff,, "The Fast Forward 2020 Winter Bookies reading list," 4 Jan. 2021 Cancer patients who steer between the Scylla of alarmism and the Charybdis of defeatism have devised oblique stratagems to navigate the difficult passageway of fearful vigilance. Susan Gubar, New York Times, "What Cancer Has Taught Me About Fear," 15 Apr. 2020 This could lead to defeatism, because the problem is perceived as being out of control and unsolvable. Kate Aronoff, The New Republic, "We’re Debating Climate Predictions While Rome Burns," 10 Feb. 2020 Knowledge becomes a mummifying force, formalizing expectations into defeatism. Zoë Hu, The New Republic, "The Limits of the Confessional Novel," 27 Jan. 2020 The general deplored the defeatism of some of his own compatriots, telling an American correspondent, who described London as entirely devastated, that the city neither was nor would be. Max Hastings, WSJ, "Five Best: Max Hastings on Diaries of World War II," 31 Jan. 2020 Effective when used bluntly, without defeatism or apology. Rebecca Mccarthy, Longreads, "Climate Messaging: A Case for Negativity," 29 Sep. 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'defeatism.' 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 defeatism

1917, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for defeatism

defeat entry 2 + -ism

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Time Traveler for defeatism

Time Traveler

The first known use of defeatism was in 1917

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Statistics for defeatism

Last Updated

30 Mar 2021

Cite this Entry

“Defeatism.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 6 May. 2021.

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English Language Learners Definition of defeatism

formal : a way of thinking in which a person expects to lose or fail

More from Merriam-Webster on defeatism

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for defeatism

Britannica English: Translation of defeatism for Arabic Speakers

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