use-icon

HOW TO USE THE DICTIONARY

Learn what the dictionary tells you about words.

Get Started Now!

Some compound words (like bus rapid transit, dog whistle, or identity theft) don’t appear on the drop-down list when you enter them into the search window. If a compound term doesn’t appear in the drop-down list, try entering the term into the search window and then hit the search button (instead of the “enter” key). Alternatively, begin searches for compound terms with a quotation mark.

use-icon

THE USAGE PANEL

The Usage Panel is a group of nearly 200 prominent scholars, creative writers, journalists, diplomats, and others in occupations requiring mastery of language. The Panelists are surveyed annually to gauge the acceptability of particular usages and grammatical constructions.

The Panelists

puzzle-icon

NEED HELP SOLVING A CROSSWORD PUZZLE?

Go to our Crossword Puzzle Solver and type in the letters that you know, and the Solver will produce a list of possible solutions.

open-icon

INTERESTED IN DICTIONARIES?

Check out the Dictionary Society of North America at http://www.dictionarysociety.com

open-icon

AMERICAN HERITAGE DICTIONARY APP

The new American Heritage Dictionary app is now available for iOS and Android.

scroll-icon

INDO-EUROPEAN & SEMITIC ROOTS APPENDICES

Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:

Indo-European Roots

Semitic Roots

The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.

open-icon

OPEN DICTIONARY PROJECT

Share your ideas for new words and new meanings of old words!

Start Sharing Now!

100-words-icon

See word lists from the best-selling 100 Words Series!

Find out more!

de·feat (dĭ-fēt)
Share:
tr.v. de·feat·ed, de·feat·ing, de·feats
1. To do better than (another) in a competition or battle; win victory over; beat: "Whether we defeat the enemy in one battle, or by degrees, the consequences will be the same" (Thomas Paine).
2. To prevent the success of; thwart: Internal strife defeats the purpose of teamwork.
3. Law
a. To frustrate the enforcement of (a motion, for example).
b. To make (an estate, for example) void; annul.
4.
a. To dishearten or dispirit: The last setback defeated her, and she gave up.
b. To be beyond the comprehension of; mystify: How the children found their way back home defeats me.
n.
1.
a. The act of defeating an opponent: the home team's defeat of their rivals.
b. The state of being defeated; failure to win: the home team's defeat by their rivals.
2. A coming to naught; frustration: the defeat of a lifelong dream.
3. Law
a. The act of overcoming or frustrating the enforcement of.
b. Law The act of making null and void.

[Middle English defeten, from defet, disfigured, from Old French desfait, past participle of desfaire, to destroy, from Medieval Latin disfacere, to destroy, mutilate, undo : Latin dis-, dis- + Latin facere, to do; see dhē- in the Appendix of Indo-European roots.]

de·feater n.

Synonyms: defeat, beat, conquer, rout1, vanquish
These verbs mean to triumph over an adversary: defeated the opposing team by fourteen points; beat her competitor in the race for first place; conquered the enemy after a long battle; routed all opposition due to a brilliant strategy; vanquished the marauding army in a surprise attack.

The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2017 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
 

This website is best viewed in Chrome, Firefox, Microsoft Edge, or Safari. Some characters in pronunciations and etymologies cannot be displayed properly in Internet Explorer.