[ 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.

Nearby words

  1. defence,
  2. defence in depth,
  3. defence mechanism,
  4. defenceless,
  5. defend,
  6. defender,
  7. defender of the bond,
  8. defender of the faith,
  9. defenestrate,
  10. defenestration

Origin of defendant

1275–1325; Middle English defendaunt < Anglo-French (Middle French, Old French defendant). See defend, -ant

Related formsnon·de·fend·ant, nounun·de·fend·ant, adjective Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for defendant

British Dictionary definitions for defendant


/ (dɪˈfɛndənt) /


a person against whom an action or claim is brought in a court of lawCompare 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

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

Culture definitions for defendant


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

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