verb (used with object)
BEAT THE DOLDRUMS WITH THIS WORD OF THE DAY QUIZ!
Origin of defeat
synonym study for defeat
OTHER WORDS FROM defeat
Words nearby defeat
What does defeat mean?
To defeat someone is to beat them in a competition or contest.
As a noun, a defeat is a loss (as in That was the team’s first defeat of the season) and defeat is the state of having lost (as in the agony of defeat).
In most cases, the verb beat is a close synonym for defeat, but defeat is more formal (you can beat or defeat someone in a game, but a nation defeats another in war).
As a verb, defeat can also mean to thwart or prevent something from happening, but this is less commonly used.
Example: The Allies defeated the Axis powers in World War II.
Where does defeat come from?
The first records of defeat in English come from the 1300s. It comes from the Old French verb desfaire, meaning “to undo” or “to destroy.” It ultimately derives from the Medieval Latin disfacere, from dis–, which indicates a negation or reversal, and facere, “to do.”
Those who have been defeated in competition have been undone by their opponents—they’ve been bested or beaten (or even destroyed, if the defeat was a decisive one). Defeat can be used in situations large and small, serious and unimportant: a game of rock-paper-scissors, a championship series, or a war.
A team or athlete who has never lost is often described as undefeated. But that’s rare. Most people who engage in competition, especially in sports, have experienced defeat, and they know it can hurt (that’s the agony in the common expression the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat). Those who have been defeated might even feel defeated, which is an adjective referring to the hopeless feeling you can get when you don’t achieve what you wanted to. If a person continues to feel this way all the time, they may develop a defeatist attitude—meaning they never expect to win.
Did you know ... ?
What are some other forms related to defeat?
- defeater (noun)
- defeated (adjective, past tense verb)
What are some synonyms for defeat?
What are some words that share a root or word element with defeat?
What are some words that often get used in discussing defeat?
How is defeat used in real life?
Defeat is commonly used in sports and in other situations involving direct competition with a measurable outcome. In all of its senses, defeat is negative (except of course for the person doing the defeating).
On this day in 1997: IBM’s Deep Blue becomes first computer to defeat a chess champion in match play.pic.twitter.com/H660xSJHhe
— Jon Erlichman (@JonErlichman) May 11, 2020
In a surprising defeat, Germany, defending men’s World Cup champs, eliminated from this year’s tournament in Russia allowing Mexico to advance.
— Polo Sandoval (@PoloSandovalCNN) June 27, 2018
Right. I'm usually really good at cooking / baking, but banana bread has defeated me every single time so far. 🍌🍞
I'm trying a new recipe… Maybe this is the day it turns out well? 🤞😌
— Imola Unger 💐🍃🌊🦦 (@ImolaUnger) May 10, 2020
Try using defeat!
Is defeat used correctly in the following sentence?
He was gracious even in defeat.
Example sentences from the Web for defeat
He rebuffed calls to institute the death penalty, and his last term as governor ended in his defeat.Mario Cuomo, a Frustrating Hero to Democrats, Is Dead at 82|Eleanor Clift|January 2, 2015|DAILY BEAST
After the defeat of ISIS in Sinjar, most other locals have been left wondering who might rule the city in the near future.Has the Kurdish Victory at Sinjar Turned the Tide of ISIS War?|Niqash|December 27, 2014|DAILY BEAST
That defeat was driven largely by Romney losing women voters by an insurmountable 11 points.
In recent days, there has been a subtle feeling of defeat permeating through the camp.
But it certainly contributed, and purposely so, to the defeat of the tough Likud hardliner Yitzhak Shamir in 1992.The Inside Story of U.S. Meddling in Israel’s Elections|Aaron David Miller|December 4, 2014|DAILY BEAST
The trace of anger was gone from Krafft's voice now and it was heavy with fatigue and defeat.Sense of Obligation|Henry Maxwell Dempsey (AKA Harry Harrison)
To defeat this intention became now the chief object of the British General.Matilda Montgomerie|Major (John) Richardson
But in 1904 the Democratic leaders, tired of defeat, turned desperately to the opposite wing of the party.
Pope's first battle, as leader of the Army of Virginia, had resulted in neither victory nor defeat.Battles of the Civil War|Thomas Elbert Vineyard
For the man who has no poise there is no snatching victory from defeat.Poise: How to Attain It|D. Starke