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From Old French desfait, from the verb desfaire (compare modern French défaire), from des- + faire, or possibly from Vulgar Latin disfaciō, disfacere (unmake), from Latin dis- + faciō.



defeat (third-person singular simple present defeats, present participle defeating, simple past and past participle defeated)

  1. (transitive) To overcome in battle or contest.
    Wellington defeated Napoleon at Waterloo.
    Synonyms: beat, conquer, overthrow, rout, vanquish
  2. (transitive) To reduce, to nothing, the strength of.
    • Tillotson
      He finds himself naturally to dread a superior Being that can defeat all his designs, and disappoint all his hopes.
    • A. W. Ward
      In one instance he defeated his own purpose.
  3. (transitive) To nullify
    • Hallam
      The escheators [] defeated the right heir of his succession.

Related terms[edit]



defeat (plural defeats)

  1. The act of defeating or being defeated.
    • 2012 May 13, Alistair Magowan, “Sunderland 0-1 Man Utd”, in BBC Sport[1]:
      Two defeats in five games coming into this contest, and a draw with Everton, ultimately cost Sir Alex Ferguson's side in what became the most extraordinary finale to the league championship since Arsenal beat Liverpool at Anfield in 1989.