General English


  • verb to beat someone or something in a vote



  • noun the act of losing a battle, campaign or war
  • verb to destroy or drive off an enemy force


  • noun the failure to get a majority in a vote


  • noun the fact or an instance of losing to an opposing player or team in a competition
  • verb to win a victory over an opposing player or team

Origin & History of “defeat”

Etymologically, to defeat someone is literally to ‘undo’ them. The verb comes from Anglo–Norman defeter, a derivative of the noun defet. this in turn came from Old French desfait, the past participle of the verb desfaire. This was a descendant of medieval Latin disfacere, literally ‘undo’, a compound verb formed from the prefix dis-, denoting reversal, and Latin facere ‘do, make’. Its original metaphorical extension was to ‘ruination’ or ‘destruction’, and the now central sense ‘conquer’ is not recorded in English before the 16th century.

A classical Latin combination of facere with the prefix - rather than dis- produced defect, deficient, and deficit.