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See also: défendant


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Alternative forms



  • IPA(key): /dɪˈfɛnd.ənt/
  • Audio (US):(file)

Etymology 1


From Middle English defendaunt (defending; defending in a suit), borrowed from Old French defendant, present participle of defendre, from Latin dēfendere.



defendant (comparative more defendant, superlative most defendant)

  1. Serving, or suitable, for defense; defensive, defending.
    • 1599 (date written), William Shakespeare, “The Life of Henry the Fift”, in Mr. William Shakespeares Comedies, Histories, & Tragedies [] (First Folio), London: [] Isaac Iaggard, and Ed[ward] Blount, published 1623, →OCLC, [Act II, scene iv]:
      Thus comes the English with full power upon us;
      And more than carefully it us concerns
      To answer royally in our defences.
      Therefore the Dukes of Berri and of Bretagne,
      Of Brabant and of Orleans, shall make forth,
      And you, Prince Dauphin, with all swift dispatch,
      To line and new repair our towns of war
      With men of courage and with means defendant;

Etymology 2


From Middle English defendaunt (defendant in a suit; defender), borrowed from Old French defendant, nominalisation of defendant; see above.



defendant (plural defendants)

  1. (law) In civil proceedings, the party responding to the complaint; one who is sued and called upon to make satisfaction for a wrong complained of by another.
  2. (law) In criminal proceedings, the accused.
Usage notes

In Canadian and Philippine law, defendant is generally used only for a party being sued civilly; a person being tried criminally is the accused.

Derived terms






  1. third-person plural present active subjunctive of dēfendō