I recently heard a news report about a football match, which spoke of "Arsenal's defeat of Chelsea by three goals to nil".

Can the word "defeat" be used in this way? (BTW Arsenal won the match 3-0) - it strikes me as odd/incorrect, because if they just said "Arsenal's defeat", I would take it to mean Arsenal lost. By sticking "of Chelsea" on the end, does it turn it around?

Surely they should have said, "Arsenal's victory over Chelsea"

  • It says Arsanal's defeat of Chelsea, not Arsenal's defeat by Chelsea. I think the preposition 'of' makes it clear who is defeated and who is the winner. – Arun Sep 26 '16 at 12:36

The American Heritage Dictionary gives two definitions of defeat as a noun. Note the example given in definition (a):

a. The act of defeating an opponent: the home team's defeat of their rivals.

b. The state of being defeated; failure to win: the home team's defeat by their rivals.


I agree, "Arsenal's victory over Chelsea" seems the right way to go. I haven't heard of the verb Defeat being used in this way.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.