Synonyms & Antonyms of defeat

(Entry 1 of 2)

to achieve a victory over
  • they defeated their archrivals easily and moved into the next round of the play-offs

Synonyms for defeat

Words Related to defeat

Phrases Synonymous with defeat

Near Antonyms for defeat

Antonyms for defeat



Synonyms & Antonyms of defeat (Entry 2 of 2)

1 failure to win a contest
  • sore losers still griping about their defeat in the basketball game earlier that week

Synonyms for defeat

Words Related to defeat

Near Antonyms for defeat

Antonyms for defeat

2 a falling short of one's goals
  • truly disheartened by the defeat of his plans to revitalize downtown

Synonyms for defeat

Words Related to defeat

Near Antonyms for defeat

Antonyms for defeat

See the Dictionary Definition 

Frequently Asked Questions About defeat

How does the verb defeat differ from other similar words?

Some common synonyms of defeat are conquer, overcome, overthrow, reduce, subdue, and vanquish. While all these words mean "to get the better of by force or strategy," defeat does not imply the finality or completeness of vanquish which it otherwise equals.

the Confederates defeated the Union forces at Manassas

When is conquer a more appropriate choice than defeat?

In some situations, the words conquer and defeat are roughly equivalent. However, conquer implies gaining mastery of.

Caesar conquered Gaul

When could overcome be used to replace defeat?

While in some cases nearly identical to defeat, overcome suggests getting the better of with difficulty or after hard struggle.

overcame a host of bureaucratic roadblocks

When might overthrow be a better fit than defeat?

While the synonyms overthrow and defeat are close in meaning, overthrow stresses the bringing down or destruction of existing power.

violently overthrew the old regime

When can reduce be used instead of defeat?

The meanings of reduce and defeat largely overlap; however, reduce implies a forcing to capitulate or surrender.

the city was reduced after a month-long siege

Where would subdue be a reasonable alternative to defeat?

The words subdue and defeat are synonyms, but do differ in nuance. Specifically, subdue implies a defeating and suppression.

subdued the native tribes after years of fighting

When would vanquish be a good substitute for defeat?

The synonyms vanquish and defeat are sometimes interchangeable, but vanquish implies a complete overpowering.

vanquished the enemy and ended the war

Learn More About defeat

Time Traveler for defeat

Time Traveler

The first known use of defeat was in the 15th century

See more words from the same century

Thesaurus Entries Near defeat




See More Nearby Entries 

Cite this Entry

“Defeat.” Thesaurus, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 23 May. 2022.

Style: MLA
MLACheck Mark Icon ChicagoCheck Mark Icon APACheck Mark Icon Merriam-WebsterCheck Mark Icon

More from Merriam-Webster on defeat

Nglish: Translation of defeat for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of defeat for Arabic Speakers


Test Your Vocabulary

Name That Food

  • a-light
  • Name these cookies!
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

Universal Daily Crossword

A daily challenge for crossword fanatics.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!