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 case provided a grim look at the underside of teen life in small-town Palmer and young defendants displaying little if any motive. Zaz Hollander, Anchorage Daily News, "A third trial in the killing of a Palmer teen is underway. But this time it’s in Fairbanks.," 12 Sep. 2019 Typically, defendants wear regular clothing to court to prevent a biased view toward them from jurors. NBC News, "Chinese businesswoman found guilty of lying to gain access to Trump's Mar-a-Lago," 11 Sep. 2019 In contrast, a criminal prosecution can lead to a defendant losing his freedom. Michael Mccann, SI.com, "Inside the Federal Lawsuit Filed Against Antonio Brown for Rape and Sexual Assault," 11 Sep. 2019 Tougher controls District Attorney Gonzales said his office is asking magistrate judges to place a restriction on weapons possession as a condition of bail for defendants accused of violent crimes. Scott Huddleston, ExpressNews.com, "Frustrated by state and federal lawmakers’ lack of concrete action on gun violence, county officials take the lead," 10 Sep. 2019 Folkerts, 62, is one of four co-defendants who face similar charges and remain behind bars pending an April trial. oregonlive, "Ex-Gypsy Joker motorcycle club member accused of racketeering fears retaliation in custody, testimony reveals," 10 Sep. 2019 Most defendants wear civilian clothes so the jury won't be prejudiced against them. CBS News, "Accused Mar-a-Lago trespasser: "I don't believe I did anything wrong"," 10 Sep. 2019 Harris’ plan also aims to help lower-income defendants and children. Cnn.com Wire Service, The Mercury News, "Kamala Harris draws upon background in unveiling criminal justice plan," 9 Sep. 2019 One female juror was the primary holdout responsible for a hung jury that left the fate of Ghost Ship defendant Derick Almena in limbo, according to two jurors who spoke to The Chronicle Saturday. Megan Cassidy, SFChronicle.com, "Ghost Ship trial: Jurors deadlocked over landlord responsibility, legal standard," 7 Sep. 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective

Milwaukee County Circuit Judge Janet Protasiewicz looked at defendant Jesse McCauley. Sydney Czyzon, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Jesse McCauley to spend 35 years in prison for killing Minnesota man his girlfriend met at strip club," 18 July 2019 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

14 Sep 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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