Definition of defeatist in English:



  • A person who expects or is excessively ready to accept failure.

    • ‘Just because I'm concerned about the progress of the negotiations doesn't mean I'm a defeatist.’
    • ‘It also warns the reader to beware of the counsel of small-thinkers, defeatists, bureaucrats, and other bad sorts that the authors feel are standing in the way of an easy victory.’
    • ‘Censorship was reformed, to repress both pacifists and defeatists for military reasons, but to restore freedoms otherwise.’
    • ‘His concluding paragraph he sounds like a defeatist, however.’
    • ‘We only hear from the defeatists and the beaten, never from the get up and get going folks.’
    • ‘However, some defeatists led by him tried every means to discredit the war party at court, going so far as to make false accusations.’
    • ‘Two fine companion pieces on the election this week are Stephen Schwartz's ‘Defeat the defeatists!’’
    • ‘The first is that the experience of globalisation does not, as the defeatists suppose, confirm the victory of markets over politics.’
    • ‘There's a tendency to be defeatist, to label and criminalise young people.’
    • ‘She was hardly a left-wing radical or defeatist.’
    • ‘There were lots of partisan shots, calling people either winners or losers or defeatists.’
    • ‘Rather than admit this, our dovish defeatists have turned themselves into the hardest of hardliners.’
    • ‘He talked about economic isolationism, defeatists, protectionists, who is talking about protectionism, who is talking about economic isolationism.’
    • ‘That won him the derision of Western sophisticates, intellectuals and defeatists of all kinds.’
    • ‘Without wishing to sound like a defeatist, why would we have ever expected to have garnered a result in a fixture in which far better Scotland sides have foundered across the decades?’
    • ‘This was not welcome news and we were roundly attacked as scoundrels or defeatists.’
    • ‘But does she not strengthen those defeatists when she writes of the EU poll: ‘The Europeans want to see that initiative eliminated, too.’’
    • ‘Yet there is a difference between honest critics who recognize what is wrong, and defeatists who refuse to see that anything is right.’
    • ‘He was an angry peace-nik and an aggressive defeatist.’
    • ‘It also appeals to defeatists, cynics, and worldly-wise men who are not prepared to try to change the system.’
    pessimist, fatalist, yielder, cynic, prophet of doom, doomwatcher
    View synonyms


  • Demonstrating expectation or acceptance of failure.

    ‘we have a duty not to be so defeatist’
    • ‘Even as the first shovel of silt was being removed, Siruthuli encountered scepticism - bordering on a defeatist attitude - even among farmers.’
    • ‘Letting go of defeatist attitudes that you may not even realize you have is crucial.’
    • ‘Choosing to ignore the mathematical averages and the defeatist attitudes of peers, he has creatively joined both the ways of new and old in search of his soul mate and designed a postcard of friendship to introduce himself across Bulgaria.’
    • ‘Keeping warm, romantic ideas close was better than letting the pessimistic, defeatist attitude be victorious within her.’
    • ‘I was not satisfied; I had a defeatist attitude and was a confused person.’
    • ‘It is at the back of people's minds but parents are not taking a defeatist attitude.’
    • ‘Savage realizes that in order to build up his men, he must first break down their defiant, defeatist attitudes.’
    • ‘This defeatist attitude then leads him to concentrate on emphasizing post-war humanitarian efforts.’
    • ‘Because of that, and because the side was so good in those days, a lot of teams went there with a defeatist attitude and were delighted if they managed to escape with even a point but that's not the case any more.’
    • ‘Another family of drugs disrupted one's ability to think rationally and logically and still another demoralized people and gave them a defeatist attitude or sense of hopelessness.’
    • ‘That's by no means a defeatist attitude, it's realistic - although every now and again a shock happens.’
    • ‘This is not a defeatist attitude but one which I feel will salvage something from the wreckage.’
    • ‘I couldn't accept that defeatist attitude and neither could Dad.’
    • ‘It's this kind of defeatist attitude which is keeping me away from the national media spotlight.’
    • ‘‘It's a kind of defeatist attitude because then we don't ask questions about what's really there, ‘he says.’’
    • ‘‘That, brought with it a kind of defeatist attitude, a lot of psychological baggage,’ he says.’
    • ‘The overall findings of the survey of senior business leaders in the public and private sectors published in today's edition stand in contrast to much of the gloomy and defeatist talk of recent months.’
    • ‘And during one sequence before a party, we get a real sense of the shared defeatist attitude they have in common.’
    • ‘The generally defeatist attitudes polluting society today seem to state that because a problem doesn't seem to be going away, we should legalise it and make the best out of a bad situation.’
    • ‘It's difficult not to have a defeatist attitude if the work one does in trying to maintain a space with meagre financial means and major bureaucratic procedure is constantly glossed over.’
    pessimistic, fatalistic, negative, resigned, cynical, discouraged, despondent, despairing, hopeless, bleak, gloomy, gloom-ridden, looking on the black side, looking on the dark side
    View synonyms


Early 20th century: from French défaitiste, from défaite ‘defeat’.