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defeat

[dih-feet]
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verb (used with object)
  1. to overcome in a contest, election, battle, etc.; prevail over; vanquish: They defeated the enemy. She defeated her brother at tennis.
  2. to frustrate; thwart.
  3. to eliminate or deprive of something expected: The early returns defeated his hopes of election.
  4. Law. to annul.
noun
  1. the act of overcoming in a contest: an overwhelming defeat of all opposition.
  2. an instance of defeat; setback: He considered his defeat a personal affront.
  3. an overthrow or overturning; vanquishment: the defeat of a government.
  4. a bringing to naught; frustration: the defeat of all his hopes and dreams.
  5. the act or event of being bested; losing: Defeat is not something she abides easily.
  6. Archaic. undoing; destruction; ruin.

Origin of defeat

1325–75; Middle English defeten (v.) < Anglo-French, Old French desfait, past participle of desfaire to undo, destroy < Medieval Latin disfacere, equivalent to Latin dis- dis-1 + facere to do
Related formsde·feat·er, nounnon·de·feat, nounpre·de·feat, noun, verbqua·si-de·feat·ed, adjectivere·de·feat, verb, nounun·de·feat·ed, adjectiveun·de·feat·ed·ly, adverbun·de·feat·ed·ness, noun

Synonyms

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1. overwhelm, overthrow, rout, check. 2. foil, baffle, balk. 7. downfall.

Synonym study

1. Defeat, conquer, overcome, subdue imply gaining a victory or control over an opponent. Defeat suggests beating or frustrating: to defeat an enemy in battle. Conquer implies finally gaining control over, usually after a series of efforts or against systematic resistance: to conquer a country, one's inclinations. Overcome emphasizes surmounting difficulties in prevailing over an antagonist: to overcome opposition, bad habits. Subdue means to conquer so completely that resistance is broken: to subdue a rebellious spirit.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for defeat

Contemporary Examples

Historical Examples

  • Then there came upon him to reinforce this want a burning sense of defeat.

    The Spenders

    Harry Leon Wilson

  • In my lifetime—in depression and in war—they have awaited our defeat.

  • You know what you have to expect from the Syracusans, if this last struggle should end in defeat.

  • Yes, they were wolves leaping at the throat of her father, and joying in the defeat of Lucretia.

    Thoroughbreds

    W. A. Fraser

  • Lucretia's defeat in the Handicap had increased his despondency.

    Thoroughbreds

    W. A. Fraser


British Dictionary definitions for defeat

defeat

verb (tr)
  1. to overcome in a contest or competition; win a victory over
  2. to thwart or frustratethis accident has defeated all his hopes of winning
  3. law to render null and void; annul
noun
  1. the act of defeating or state of being defeated
  2. an instance of defeat
  3. overthrow or destruction
  4. law an annulment
Derived Formsdefeater, noun

Word Origin

C14: from Old French desfait, from desfaire to undo, ruin, from des- dis- 1 + faire to do, from Latin facere
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for defeat

v.

late 14c., from Anglo-French defeter, from Old French desfait, past participle of desfaire "to undo," from Vulgar Latin *diffacere "undo, destroy," from Latin dis- "un-, not" (see dis-) + facere "to do, perform" (see factitious). Original sense was of "bring ruination, cause destruction." Military sense of "conquer" is c.1600. Related: Defeated; defeating.

n.

1590s, from defeat (v.).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper