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[dih-fek-tiv] /dɪˈfɛk tɪv/
having a defect or flaw; faulty; imperfect:
a defective machine.
Psychology. characterized by subnormal intelligence or behavior.
Grammar. (of an inflected word or its inflection) lacking one or more of the inflected forms proper to most words of the same class in the language, as English must, which occurs only in the present tense.
a defective person or thing.
Origin of defective
1375-1425; < Late Latin dēfectīvus, equivalent to dēfectus (see defect) + -īvus -ive; replacing Middle English defectif < Middle French < Late Latin, as above
Related forms
defectively, adverb
defectiveness, noun
nondefective, adjective
nondefectively, adverb
nondefectiveness, noun
predefective, adjective
undefective, adjective
undefectively, adverb
undefectiveness, noun
1. incomplete, deficient.
1. perfect, complete. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for defective
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • The defective points of Martha's character seem to have been two.

  • We have overlooked the defective training of the individual, provided he "made good."

    The American Mind Bliss Perry
  • Any of these elements lacking, and the life is wanting, defective, impure.

    The Book of Khalid Ameen Rihani
  • The corner of the 'W' instead of being clear and distinct, is blunt and defective.

    The Film of Fear Arnold Fredericks
  • Of what use is fortune or talent to a cold and defective nature?

    Essays, Second Series Ralph Waldo Emerson
British Dictionary definitions for defective


having a defect or flaw; imperfect; faulty
(of a person) below the usual standard or level, esp in intelligence
(grammar) (of a word) lacking the full range of inflections characteristic of its form class, as for example must, which has no past tense
Derived Forms
defectively, adverb
defectiveness, noun
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
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Word Origin and History for defective

mid-14c., from Middle French défectif (14c.) and directly from Late Latin defectivus, from defect-, past participle stem of deficere (see deficient). A euphemism for "mentally ill" from 1898 to c.1935. Related: Defectively; defectiveness.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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defective in Medicine

defective de·fec·tive (dĭ-fěk'tĭv)

  1. Having an imperfection or malformation.

  2. Lacking or deficient in some physical or mental function.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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