Meaning of “defeat” in the English Dictionary

"defeat" in British English

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defeatverb [ T ]

uk /dɪˈfiːt/ us /dɪˈfiːt/

B1 to win against someone in a fight, war, or competition:

Napoleon was defeated by the Duke of Wellington at the battle of Waterloo.
They defeated the Italian team and reached the final.

B2 to cause someone or something to fail:

The proposal to change the rules was narrowly defeated (= by a very small number) 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).

More examples

  • The French were defeated at Waterloo in 1815.
  • The team were overwhelmingly defeated in yesterday's game.
  • The North defeated the South in the American Civil War.
  • The bill was defeated in the Commons by 249 votes to 131.
  • The four-times champion was unexpectedly defeated in the second round of the competition.

defeatnoun [ C or U ]

uk /dɪˈfiːt/ us /dɪˈfiːt/

B1 the fact of losing against someone in a fight or competition, or when someone or something is made to fail:

In the last 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.
admit defeat

to accept that you cannot do something:

I thought I could fix the radio myself, but I had to admit defeat.

More examples

  • The Democrats suffered a crushing defeat in the last election.
  • Her silence was taken as an admission of defeat.
  • He was famed for his stubborn resistance and his refusal to accept defeat.
  • Saturday's 2-0 defeat dashed their hopes of reaching the final.
  • His defeat in the world championship led to a long period of gloomy introspection.

(Definition of “defeat” from the Cambridge Advanced Learner’s Dictionary & Thesaurus © Cambridge University Press)

"defeat" in American English

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defeatverb [ T ]

us /dɪˈfit/

to oppose and cause someone to lose in a competition or war so that you can win:

Bill Clinton defeated George Bush for the presidency in 1992.

defeatnoun [ C/U ]

us /dɪˈfit/

success in competition with an opponent, causing the opponent to lose so that you can win:

[ U ] In the American Civil War, the North’s defeat of the South involved tremendous loss of life on both sides.

A defeat is also the action or fact of losing a competition or war:

[ C ] This was the team’s fifth straight defeat.

(Definition of “defeat” from the Cambridge Academic Content Dictionary © Cambridge University Press)

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