AskDefine | Define defeat

Dictionary Definition



1 an unsuccessful ending [syn: licking] [ant: victory]
2 the feeling that accompanies an experience of being thwarted in attaining your goals [syn: frustration]


1 win a victory over; "You must overcome all difficulties"; "defeat your enemies"; "He overcame his shyness"; "She conquered here fear of mice"; "He overcame his infirmity"; "Her anger got the better of her and she blew up" [syn: get the better of, overcome]
2 thwart the passage of; "kill a motion"; "he shot down the student's proposal" [syn: kill, shoot down, vote down, vote out]

User Contributed Dictionary



from desfait, desfairé (to ruin) from des + facere (to unmake).


  • /dɪ'fiːt/


  1. To overcome in battle or contest
  2. To destroy, ruin, undo, lay waste to


to overcome in battle or contest
to destroy


  1. The act of defeating or being defeated


the act of defeating or being defeated

Extensive Definition

Defeatism is acceptance of defeat without struggle. In everyday use, defeatism has negative connotation and is often linked to treason and pessimism, or even a hopeless situation such as a Catch-22. The term is commonly used in the context of war: a soldier can be a defeatist if he or she refuses to fight because he or she thinks that the fight will be lost for sure or that it is not worth fighting for some other reason. Again in connection with war, the term is used to refer to the view that defeat would be better than victory. The term can also be used in other fields, like politics, sport, psychology and philosophy.

Political defeatism

Some governments charged dissidents with "defeatism" for opposing the war or other government policies. For example:

Revolutionary Defeatism

A concept made most prominent by Vladimir Lenin in World War I, Revolutionary Defeatism is based on the Marxist idea of class struggle. Arguing that the proletariat could not win or gain in a war, Lenin declared its true enemy is the imperialist leaders who sent their lower classes into battle. Workers would gain more from their own nations' defeats, he argued, if the war could be turned into civil war and then international revolution.
Initially rejected by all but the more radical at the socialist Zimmerwald Conference in 1915, the concept appears to have gained support from more and more socialists, especially in Russia in 1917 after it was forcefully reaffirmed in Lenin's April Theses and Russia's war losses continued.
Revolutionary defeatism can be contrasted, using Lenin's terminology, to "revolutionary defencism" and to social patriotism.

See also

defeat in German: Defätismus
defeat in Italian: Disfattismo
defeat in Russian: Пораженчество
defeat in Serbian: Дефетизам
defeat in Chinese: 失败主义

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

KO, Waterloo, answer, answer conclusively, argue down, baffle, bafflement, balk, balking, bankruptcy, bar, bear down, bear the palm, beat, beat all hollow, beat down, beat hollow, beating, best, betrayed hope, bilk, blast, blasted expectation, blighted hope, block, blow, brave, bring down, buffet, cast down, challenge, check, checkmate, circumvent, cleaning, cleanup, clobber, clobbering, comedown, confound, confounding, confront, confute, conquer, conquest, contradict, contravene, controvert, cook, counter, counteract, countermand, counterwork, cross, cruel disappointment, crush, dash, dashed hope, debacle, defeasance, defeat expectation, defy, demolish, deny, destroy, disappoint, disappointment, discomfit, discomfiture, disconcert, disconcertion, discountenance, dish, disillusion, disillusionment, dismiss, dispose of, disrupt, dissatisfaction, dissatisfy, do for, do in, downcast, downthrow, drub, drubbing, dusting, elude, end, failure, fallen countenance, fiasco, finish, fix, fizzle, floor, flummox, foil, foiling, forlorn hope, frustrate, frustration, futility, hide, hinder, hope deferred, hors de combat, ill success, impede, knock out, knock the chocks, lambaste, lambasting, lather, let down, letdown, lick, licking, losing game, mirage, miscarriage, no go, nonaccomplishment, nonplus, nonsuccess, obstruct, outclass, outdo, outfight, outgeneral, outmaneuver, outpoint, outrun, outsail, outshine, overcome, overpower, overthrow, overturn, overwhelm, parry, perplex, prevail over, put, put to silence, rebuff, rebut, reduce, reduce to silence, refute, repress, repulse, reversal, reverse, rise above, rout, ruin, sabotage, scotch, scuttle, setback, settle, shellacking, shoot down, shut up, silence, sink, skin, skin alive, smash all opposition, sore disappointment, spike, spoil, squash, squelch, stonewall, stop, stump, subdue, subjugate, subvert, successlessness, suppress, surmount, take the cake, tantalization, tantalize, tease, terminate, thrash, thrashing, thwart, thwarting, torpedo, trim, triumph, triumph over, trounce, trouncing, undermine, undo, undoing, unsuccess, unsuccessfulness, upset, uselessness, vanquish, vanquishment, warming, whip, win, worst
Privacy Policy, About Us, Terms and Conditions, Contact Us
Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.2
Material from Wikipedia, Wiktionary, Dict
Valid HTML 4.01 Strict, Valid CSS Level 2.1