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

According to the Los Angeles Times, prosecutors are pressuring some defendants to cooperate—or else face additional charges that could be filed by a grand jury this month. Michelle Ruiz, Vogue, "Lori Loughlin and Felicity Huffman May Finally Break Their Silence in Court Tomorrow," 2 Apr. 2019 The defendant is not a risk to the community whatsoever ... Tresa Baldas, Detroit Free Press, "Feds: No proof behind Macomb official's cancer story; keep him jailed," 12 July 2018 The defendant’s recent assault on the integrity of the survivors and the legal process is predictable. Lauren Rearick, Teen Vogue, "Harvey Weinstein Indicted on More Rape Charges by a Grand Jury," 10 July 2018 When a denaturalization lawsuit is filed, the defendant's options are to fight it or be deported. Adiel Kaplan, miamiherald, "Miami grandma targeted as U.S. takes aim at naturalized immigrants with prior offenses," 9 July 2018 The defendants are scheduled to appear July 9 before U.S. Magistrate Judge Virginia K. DeMarchi in San Jose. Catherine Ho, San Francisco Chronicle, "Feds accuse ex-Jawbone employees of taking trade secrets to Fitbit," 14 June 2018 Downey elaborated on that, saying the defendant was shocked to find his ex-girlfriend with another man. Victoria Cheyne, Houston Chronicle, "Man gets life in fatal shooting of ex-girlfriend, her boyfriend," 6 June 2018 One of the defendants, Mark Cusson, 49, of Southington, was able to file for retirement before he was fired by the state. Josh Kovner, courant.com, "At Scandalized Whiting Forensic Hospital, A Pivotal Hearing: What You Need To Know," 1 June 2018 Unless there’s a conflict of interest, all of the defendants are usually represented by the same attorney, the university said. Rachel Leingang, azcentral, "Lawsuit claims male ASU student was improperly expelled for sexual misconduct," 31 May 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

13 Apr 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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