Cambridge Dictionaries online Cambridge Dictionaries online

The most popular online dictionary and thesaurus for learners of English

English definition of “defeat”

defeat

verb [T] uk   /dɪˈfiːt/ us  
B1 to win against someone in a fight, war, or competition: Napoleon was defeated by the Duke of Wellington at the battle of Waterloo. If we can defeat the Italian team, we'll be through to the final. Winning and defeatingScoring, winning and losing in sport B2 to cause someone or something to fail: The proposal to change the rules was narrowly (= only just) defeated by 201 votes to 196. Our ambitions for this tournament have been defeated by the weather. I'm afraid anything that involves language learning has always defeated me (= I have been unable to do it).Winning and defeatingScoring, winning and losing in sport

defeat

noun [C or U] uk   /dɪˈfiːt/ us  
B1 the fact of losing against someone in a fight or competition, or when someone or something is made to fail: At the last General Election, they suffered a crushing/humiliating defeat. After their defeat in battle, the soldiers surrendered. She admitted/conceded defeat well before all the votes had been counted.
Compare
Winning and defeatingScoring, winning and losing in sport
admit defeat to accept that you cannot do something: I thought I could mend the radio myself, but I've had to admit defeat.Losing and being defeatedScoring, winning and losing in sport
(Definition of defeat from the Cambridge Advanced Learners Dictionary & Thesaurus © Cambridge University Press)
What is the pronunciation of defeat?
Add Cambridge dictionaries to your browser to your website

Definitions of “defeat” in other dictionaries

Word of the Day

improvisation

a performance that an actor, musician, etc. has not practised or planned

Word of the Day

Blog

Read our blog about how the English language behaves.

Learn More

New Words

Find words and meanings that have just started to be used in English, and let us know what you think of them.

Learn More