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Synonym Chooser

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

Thesaurus Entries Near defeat

Cite this Entry

“Defeat.” Thesaurus, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 23 Apr. 2024.

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