self-de·​feat·​ing | \ ˌself-di-ˈfē-tiŋ How to pronounce self-defeating (audio) , -dē- \

Definition of self-defeating

: serving or tending to defeat oneself or itself : counterproductive: such as
a : acting to defeat its own purpose a self-defeating argument You kind of realize that violence can be a self-defeating strategy, because it just gives the other guy an incentive to attack you back in revenge.— Stephen Pinker
b : being or involving an attitude of defeatism Procrastinators tend to be more stressed than other people—even before they start procrastinating. According to a recent study, that's possibly because they have self-defeating thoughts like, "I'm simply too stupid to benefit from more studying, so I'll just hang out on Facebook."— Shana Lebowitz

First Known Use of self-defeating

1812, in the meaning defined above

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The first known use of self-defeating was in 1812

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Cite this Entry

“Self-defeating.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 27 Sep. 2020.

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English Language Learners Definition of self-defeating

: meant to solve a problem but actually causing the same or another problem : causing more problems than it solves
: preventing you from doing or achieving something

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