defendant

noun
de·​fen·​dant | \ di-ˈfen-dənt, in legal circles often -ˌdant \

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

Attorneys for the defendants, including Au Pair International Inc., Cultural Care Au Pair and GreatAuPair LLC didn’t immediately return requests for comment Wednesday. Sara Randazzo, WSJ, "Au Pairs Reach $65.5 Million Settlement Over Wages," 9 Jan. 2019 The defendants, their fortunes sliding in opposite directions, represent starkly different paths in Mueller’s investigation — a model cooperator on one end and, prosecutors say, a dishonest and resistant witness on the other. Chad Day, The Seattle Times, "Flynn’s lawyers say his lie to FBI ‘uncharacteristic’," 12 Dec. 2018 All defendants, who have pleaded not guilty and deny criminal wrongdoing, were present during Thursday’s hearing. Steve Vockrodt And Lauren Fox, kansascity, "Schlitterbahn to tear down Verruckt water slide in KCK where young boy died in 2016," 12 July 2018 The defendant in that case, Valentino Valles, faces a preliminary hearing Friday. Anita Chabria And Michael Finch Ii, sacbee, "Hate crimes in Sacramento County have increased by 66 percent since 2014," 12 July 2018 Other defendants, including former state Sen. Carlos Uresti, who was sentenced to 12 years in prison last month, are liable for the restitution amount, as well. Patrick Danner, San Antonio Express-News, "FourWinds bookkeeper who testified against Uresti sentenced to year in prison camp," 11 July 2018 In August 2017, when Williams was placed on home incarceration, there were 22 defendants with a murder charge on the program, according to jail data. Matthew Glowicki, The Courier-Journal, "Criminal justice leaders talk home incarceration concerns, benefits," 11 July 2018 At a second trial involving another handful of defendants, jurors either acquitted them or were unable to reach a unanimous verdict. Keith L. Alexander, chicagotribune.com, "Federal prosecutors dismiss all remaining Inauguration Day rioting cases," 7 July 2018 The stun belt and leg braces that Arias wore during trial (as do most murder defendants) violated her constitutional rights and may have prejudiced the jury. Michael Kiefer, azcentral, "First look: Jodi Arias' defense attorneys file 342-page brief in conviction appeal," 6 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

19 Jan 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 \

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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