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

Prosecutors also charged a fourth defendant linked to Wall Street Market, Marcos Paulo De Oliveira-Annibale. Kristin Broughton, WSJ, "Three Charged With Operating Illicit Dark-Web Marketplace," 3 May 2019 Conditions of his sentence include inpatient drug treatment and cooperation with prosecutors against his co-defendants. David Porter, The Seattle Times, "Homeless ‘good Samaritan’ gets probation in gas money scam," 12 Apr. 2019 Texas law holds lawyers representing capital murder defendants to a higher standard and gives specific experience requirements for first- and second-chair attorneys. Elizabeth Zavala, San Antonio Express-News, "San Antonio death penalty case ends in mistrial over attorney’s health," 5 July 2018 The licensing commission said the defendants were not licensed. Andrew Selsky, The Seattle Times, "Oregon man pleads guilty in marijuana trafficking case," 11 Apr. 2019 During the investigation, which began in June 2018, an undercover detective bought 36 handguns from the defendants in the Brooklyn neighborhoods of East New York and Bedford-Stuyvesant, prosecutors said Wednesday. Corinne Ramey, WSJ, "Brooklyn Prosecutors Charge Three With Trafficking Guns From South Carolina," 10 Apr. 2019 But the ads were never seen by a human being — instead, the defendants allegedly used a server farm and a botnet to simulate billions of visits to real pages. Adi Robertson, The Verge, "Eight people charged with running a multimillion-dollar online ad scam," 27 Nov. 2018 The defendants both face up to five years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000 apiece, according to court documents. Gabrielle Banks, Houston Chronicle, "Pearland men face sentencing for fraudulent bidding under guise that disabled veteran was majority owner of business," 12 July 2018 The gruesome video of the four African-American defendants attacking the white victim drew widespread condemnation, including from then-President Barack Obama. Megan Crepeau, chicagotribune.com, "Last of 4 defendants pleads guilty to beating teen with disability in livestreamed Facebook attack," 12 July 2018

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

11 May 2019

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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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