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[dih-fen-duh nt or especially in court for 1, -dant] /dɪˈfɛn dənt or especially in court for 1, -dænt/
Law. a person, company, etc., against whom a claim or charge is brought in a court (opposed to plaintiff).
Obsolete. defender.
making one's defense; defending:
a defendant corporation.
Obsolete. defensive.
Origin of defendant
1275-1325; Middle English defendaunt < Anglo-French (Middle French, Old French defendant). See defend, -ant
Related forms
nondefendant, noun
undefendant, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for defendant
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • In all this Eleazer had the air of conducting the case for the defendant.

  • And you, Cabasse, have you nothing to say either for or against the defendant?

    The Downfall Emile Zola
  • Rufus Choate represented the defendant and Daniel Webster the plaintiff.

    The Age of Invention Holland Thompson
  • The witness remembered how at the inquiry the defendant Ray had defended his accomplice.

  • Did any one accompany the defendant to St. Pancras that night?

    A Son of Hagar

    Sir Hall Caine
British Dictionary definitions for defendant


a person against whom an action or claim is brought in a court of law Compare plaintiff
making a defence; defending
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 defendant

c.1400, in the legal sense, from French défendant, present participle of défendre (see defend). Earliest use in English was as a present participle adjective meaning "defending" (c.1300).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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defendant in Culture

defendant definition

The party that is being sued in court. (Compare plaintiff.)

The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
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