• IPA: /dɪˈfiːt/

defeat (defeats, present participle defeating; past and past participle defeated)

  1. (transitive) To overcome in battle or contest.
    Wellington defeated Napoleon at Waterloo.
  2. (transitive) To reduce, to nothing, the strength of.
    • He finds himself naturally to dread a superior Being that can defeat all his designs, and disappoint all his hopes.
    • In one instance he defeated his own purpose.
  3. (transitive) To nullify
    • The escheators […] defeated the right heir of his succession.
Synonyms Related terms Translations Translations Translations Noun


  1. The act or instance of being defeated, of being overcome or vanquished; a loss.
    Licking their wounds after a temporary defeat, they planned their next move.
  2. The act or instance of defeating, of overcoming, vanquishing.
    The inscription records her defeat of the country's enemies in a costly war.
  3. Frustration (by prevention of success), stymieing; (legal) nullification.
    • 1909, The Southern Reporter, page 250:
      ... is subsequently issued to him, in accordance with his perfect equity thus acquired, by a legal fiction which the law creates for the protection, but not for the defeat, of his title.
    • 2008, Gene Porter, A Daughter of the Land, volume 1 (ISBN 1442910054), page 17:
      She could see no justice in being forced into a position that promised to end in further humiliation and defeat of her hopes.
  4. (obsolete) Destruction, ruin.
    • 1599, William Shakespeare, Much Ado About Nothing, act 4, scene 1:
      and made defeat of her virginity
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