de·​fec·​tive | \ di-ˈfek-tiv How to pronounce defective (audio) \

Definition of defective

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1a : having a defect or flaw : imperfect in form, structure, or function replaced a defective light switch products manufactured with defective materials defective intestinal absorption a defective gene
b dated, now offensive : having a physical or mental impairment
2 grammar : lacking one or more of the usual forms of inflection (see inflection sense 2) Must is a defective verb.



Definition of defective (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : something that is imperfect in form, structure, or function … if we examine 18 items off the production line, we may be interested in the number of defectives we observe in the sample of size 18.— Lloyd Jaisingh
2 dated, now offensive : a person having a physical or mental impairment

Other Words from defective


defectively adverb
defectiveness noun

Synonyms & Antonyms for defective

Synonyms: Adjective

Antonyms: Adjective

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Examples of defective in a Sentence

Adjective This computer is defective. I want my money back. The disease is caused by a defective gene.
Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective The orders denied that the petitions were defective. Detroit Free Press, 9 Sep. 2022 The lawsuit also names the helmet-maker Giro Sport Design Inc., arguing that the helmet Molly wore was defective. Will Taylor, Outside Online, 19 Aug. 2022 Guerrero concluded, however, that the notice denying the claim sent by MTS was defective. Greg Moran, San Diego Union-Tribune, 26 Aug. 2022 General Motors has recalled more than 141,000 Bolts since last August and halted manufacturing of the electric vehicles for several months after some defective batteries caught fire. Christine Mui, Fortune, 6 July 2022 Chevrolet restarted production in April at Orion after idling it for months so that GM could work with its battery maker LG Energy Solution to focus on finding a fix for defective batteries in all 2017-22 model year EVs and EUVs. Jamie L. Lareau, Detroit Free Press, 1 June 2022 Auto safety experts have often criticized the highway safety agency for doing a poor job of investigating deadly auto defects, such as a faulty ignition switch used by G.M. and defective airbags made by Takata. New York Times, 16 Aug. 2021 Adams tried to get more than $13,000 from the $125 million Takata Individual Restitution Fund, which the airbag maker was forced to set up to compensate people injured by their defective airbags. Howard Koplowitz |, al, 4 Aug. 2021 The majority of the defective ballots were Democratic ones. Jamie Goldberg, oregonlive, 17 May 2022 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun After two replacement phones (one defective, the next meant for another customer and locked) and 15 different Apple customer service representatives, Holland, a publicist in Wilmington, N.C., searched online for Jobs’s email address. Washington Post, 23 Feb. 2021 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'defective.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

First Known Use of defective


14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a


1562, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for defective


Middle English defectif, defectyve "lacking, faulty, of poor quality," borrowed from Anglo-French defectif, borrowed from Late Latin dēfectīvus "lacking an inflectional form, imperfect, faulty," from Latin dēfectus, past participle of dēficere "to be lacking, run short, fail" + -īvus -ive — more at deficient


derivative of defective entry 1

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Time Traveler for defective

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The first known use of defective was in the 14th century

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Dictionary Entries Near defective



defective delinquent

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Statistics for defective

Last Updated

20 Sep 2022

Cite this Entry

“Defective.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 29 Sep. 2022.

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More Definitions for defective


de·​fec·​tive | \ di-ˈfek-tiv How to pronounce defective (audio) \

Kids Definition of defective

: having a defect or flaw The car's brakes were defective.


de·​fec·​tive | \ di-ˈfek-tiv How to pronounce defective (audio) \

Medical Definition of defective

: falling below the norm in structure or function a defective heart valve

Other Words from defective

defectiveness \ -​nəs How to pronounce defective (audio) \ noun

More from Merriam-Webster on defective

Nglish: Translation of defective for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of defective for Arabic Speakers


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