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From Middle French defaicte, from Latin defectus (a failure, lack), from deficere (to fail, lack, literally 'undo'), from past participle defectus, from de- (priv.) + facere (to do).


  • (noun) enPR: dē'fĕkt, IPA(key): /ˈdiːfɛkt/
  • (file)
  • (verb) enPR: dĭfĕkt', IPA(key): /dɪˈfɛkt/


defect (plural defects)

  1. A fault or malfunction.
    a defect in the ear or eye; a defect in timber or iron; a defect of memory or judgment
    • (Can we date this quote?) Macaulay
      Among boys little tenderness is shown to personal defects.
    • 2014 October 21, Brown, Oliver, “Oscar Pistorius jailed for five years – sport afforded no protection against his tragic fallibilities: Bladerunner's punishment for killing Reeva Steenkamp is but a frippery when set against the burden that her bereft parents, June and Barry, must carry [print version: No room for sentimentality in this tragedy, 13 September 2014, p. S22]”, in The Daily Telegraph (Sport)[1]:
      But ever since the concept of "hamartia" recurred through Aristotle's Poetics, in an attempt to describe man's ingrained iniquity, our impulse has been to identify a telling defect in those brought suddenly and dramatically low.
    • 2018, James Lambert, “A multitude of ‘lishes’: The nomenclature of hybridity”, in English World-Wide[2], page 4:
      Another major defect of the current literature dealing with the nomenclature of hybrid forms of English is the scant attention paid to the question of frequency.
  2. The quantity or amount by which anything falls short.
    • Davies
      Errors have been corrected, and defects supplied.
  3. (mathematics) A part by which a figure or quantity is wanting or deficient.

Usage notesEdit

  • Adjectives often used with "defect": major, minor, serious, cosmetic, functional, critical, fatal, basic, fundamental, main, primary, principal, radical, inherent


Related termsEdit



defect (third-person singular simple present defects, present participle defecting, simple past and past participle defected)

  1. (intransitive) To abandon or turn against; to cease or change one's loyalty, especially from a military organisation or political party.
    • 2013 May 23, Sarah Lyall, "British Leader’s Liberal Turn Sets Off a Rebellion in His Party," New York Times (retrieved 29 May 2013):
      Capitalizing on the restive mood, Mr. Farage, the U.K. Independence Party leader, took out an advertisement in The Daily Telegraph this week inviting unhappy Tories to defect. In it Mr. Farage sniped that the Cameron government — made up disproportionately of career politicians who graduated from Eton and Oxbridge — was “run by a bunch of college kids, none of whom have ever had a proper job in their lives.”
  2. (military) To desert one's army, to flee from combat.
  3. (military) To join the enemy army.
  4. (law) To flee one's country and seek asylum.
    • Choe Sang-Hun (15 August 2015), “A North Korean Defector’s Regret”, in The New York Times[3], retrieved 20 September 2015:
      "Passing through Thailand, she submitted a handwritten statement agreeing to defect, a requirement for North Korean refugees to be allowed to enter the South."

Derived termsEdit


Further readingEdit