9 Grammatical Pitfalls


[dih-fen-duh nt or especially in court for 1, -dant] /dɪˈfɛn dənt or especially in court for 1, -dænt/
Law. a person, company, etc., against whom a claim or charge is brought in a court (opposed to plaintiff).
Obsolete, defender.
making one's defense; defending:
a defendant corporation.
Obsolete, defensive.
Origin of defendant
1275-1325; Middle English defendaunt < Anglo-French (Middle French, Old French defendant). See defend, -ant
Related forms
nondefendant, noun
undefendant, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for defendant
  • In any case, my question is about whether or not I should collect restitution from the defendant.
  • The most contentious part of the bill is the proposal to allow juries to be told of a defendant's criminal record.
  • Toss in a poignant midlife romance and an innocent, put-upon defendant, and you have a novel with wide appeal.
  • If the defendant elects to waive his constitutional rights, the burden of establishing that waiver is on the prosecution.
  • The defendant had spent weeks in jail pre-trail.
  • The defendant grounded his argument on statutes that he claimed gave him the last challenge.
  • If a judge had such arbitrary power, every defendant in the universe would be assumed to be guilty before the fact.
  • There is no evidence; you have no case; and the defendant is innocent until you have proved her guilty, remember.
  • The defendant in a criminal case is not obligated to testify.
  • The trial for a fifth defendant has not been scheduled.
British Dictionary definitions for defendant


a person against whom an action or claim is brought in a court of law Compare plaintiff
making a defence; defending
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for defendant

c.1400, in the legal sense, from French défendant, present participle of défendre (see defend). Earliest use in English was as a present participle adjective meaning "defending" (c.1300).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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defendant in Culture

defendant definition

The party that is being sued in court. (Compare plaintiff.)

The American Heritage® New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
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