defendant

noun
de·​fen·​dant | \ di-ˈfen-dənt How to pronounce defendant (audio) , in legal circles often -ˌdant How to pronounce defendant (audio) \

Definition of defendant

 (Entry 1 of 2)

law
: a person or group against whom a criminal or civil action is brought : someone who is being sued or accused of committing a crime if the jury finds the defendant not guilty — compare plaintiff

defendant

adjective

Definition of defendant (Entry 2 of 2)

: being on the defensive : defending

Examples of defendant in a Sentence

Noun

The jury believed that the defendant was guilty.

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

The other 18 defendants have been arrested over the past year. Fox News, "Prosecutors accuse MS-13 of 7 'medieval-style' slayings, including cutting heart out of rival," 17 July 2019 The other two defendants, Ali Reza Shokri and Farzin Faridmanesh, remain at large, according to federal authorities. Robert Windrem, NBC News, "3 Iranians charged with exporting tons of substance used in missiles, nuclear centrifuges," 16 July 2019 Three other defendants already have entered pleas in the case. Maxine Bernstein, oregonlive.com, "Man pleads guilty to manslaughter in 2014 killing of Ervaeua Herring in Portland," 12 July 2019 Jones and other defendants — including several corporate entities, a conspiracy theorist who has been a guest on Infowars and his associate — have defended their right to ask questions and speak freely. Susan Svrluga, BostonGlobe.com, "Another twist in Sandy Hook families’ defamation case against Alex Jones," 11 July 2019 Insurance and other defendants, including religious orders, paid the rest. Ian Lovett, WSJ, "Catholic Church Offers Cash to Settle Abuse Claims—With a Catch," 11 July 2019 He was released on the conditions of having no contact with the victims or other defendants, undergoing pre-trial supervision, and submitting to random testing, according to a bail review document. Mary Grace Keller, baltimoresun.com/maryland/carroll, "Two Carroll County 19-year-olds indicted for alleged robbery, burglary in Woodbine," 10 July 2019 Henderson called the names of other defendants whose cases were on the docket. Wendi C. Thomas, ProPublica, "Nonprofit Christian Hospital Suspends Debt Collection Lawsuits Amid Furor Over Suing Its Own Employees," 3 July 2019 Two other defendants in the case who allegedly participated in the brawl also pleaded not guilty Tuesday to similar charges. CBS News, "Cardi B pleads not guilty to felony charges stemming from strip club fight," 25 June 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective

Others have wondered aloud if a conviction could be won if the defendant police officer in a fatal shooting were nonwhite and the victim white. Mark Curnutte, Cincinnati.com, "Why juries have a hard time convicting cops," 24 July 2017 Defendant Juan Thompson is believed to have committed about a dozen of them. David Kravets, Ars Technica, "Man who e-mailed bomb threats to frame former girlfriend pleads guilty," 13 June 2017 Defendant pleads guilty as St. Tammany murder trial enters fifth day Three days after testimony began in his second-degree murder trial in Covington, Calvin Jefferson pleaded guilty Friday morning (June 9) in the murder of his ex-wife in 2012. Carol Wolfram, NOLA.com, "Water boiling advisory lifted for Alton community," 9 June 2017 The [emoji laden] text message sent by Defendant 2 on June 5, 2016, was accompanied by quite a few symbols... Raisa Bruner, Time, "Judge Rules Couple Owes Money After Using These 'Misleading' Optimistic Emoji," 22 May 2017 Defendant Giles Cory was tortured to death while refusing to enter a plea at his trial. National Geographic, "5 Facts About the Real Salem Witch Hunt," 18 May 2017 Defendant Londro Emanuel Patterson III, 21, is charged with first-degree murder, two counts of aggravated robbery and aggravated battery. Matt Campbell, kansascity.com, "Defense rests without presenting evidence in first She’s a Pistol murder trial," 17 May 2017 Defendant’s right to counsel The case: Williams vs. Jones, 2009. David Migoya, The Denver Post, "What 10 key opinions by Neil Gorsuch say about his judicial mindset," 2 Feb. 2017

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

Noun

14th century, in the meaning defined above

Adjective

14th century, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for defendant

Noun

Middle English defendaunt, borrowed from Anglo-French defendant, diffendaunt, noun derivative from present participle of defendre "to defend"

Adjective

Middle English defendaunt, from Anglo-French defendant, present participle of defendre "to defend"

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Statistics for defendant

Last Updated

20 Jul 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for defendant

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

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More Definitions for defendant

defendant

noun

English Language Learners Definition of defendant

: a person who is being sued or accused of a crime in a court of law

defendant

noun
de·​fen·​dant | \ di-ˈfen-dənt, -ˌdant How to pronounce defendant (audio) \

Legal Definition of defendant

: the party against whom a criminal or civil action is brought — see also answer, codefendant — compare accused, plaintiff

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Comments on defendant

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