Etymology
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defendant (n.)

c. 1400, in the legal sense "a party sued in a court of law," from Anglo-French, Old French defendant (Modern French défendant), noun use of present participle of defendre (see defend). Earliest use in English was as a present-participle adjective meaning "defensive, defending" (c. 1300).

updated on July 11, 2018

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Definitions of defendant from WordNet

defendant (n.)
a person or institution against whom an action is brought in a court of law; the person being sued or accused;
Synonyms: suspect
From wordnet.princeton.edu, not affiliated with etymonline.