Defective Definition & Meaning - Merriam-Webster


de·​fec·​tive | \ di-ˈfek-tiv How to pronounce defective (audio) \

Definition of defective

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1a : having a defect or flaw : imperfect in form, structure, or function replaced a defective light switch products manufactured with defective materials defective intestinal absorption a defective gene
b dated, now offensive : having a physical or mental impairment
2 grammar : lacking one or more of the usual forms of inflection (see inflection sense 2) Must is a defective verb.



Definition of defective (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : something that is imperfect in form, structure, or function … if we examine 18 items off the production line, we may be interested in the number of defectives we observe in the sample of size 18.— Lloyd Jaisingh
2 dated, now offensive : a person having a physical or mental impairment

Other Words from defective


defectively adverb
defectiveness noun

Synonyms & Antonyms for defective

Synonyms: Adjective

Antonyms: Adjective

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Examples of defective in a Sentence

Adjective This computer is defective. I want my money back. The disease is caused by a defective gene.
Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective The vehicles, which were damaged when a catastrophic tornado hit Kentucky and five other states last month, will reportedly be scrapped to ensure no defective cars end up on the road. Bryan Hood, Robb Report, 6 Jan. 2022 Rail service is not affected but is already operating at reduced levels as Metro seeks to safely get defective 7000-series rail cars into service. Washington Post, 4 Jan. 2022 Tesla is also recalling up to 119,009 Model S cars made since 2014 due to a defective front-trunk latch that could have the hood popping up unexpectedly and obstruct the driver's view, according to another statement to the NHTSA. Kate Gibson, CBS News, 30 Dec. 2021 The technology is used to insert, edit, or delete a gene from an organism’s genome, helping to replace the defective genes responsible for a medical condition with healthy versions. Trefis Team, Forbes, 23 Dec. 2021 Switching a single lock for a new one is easy, but finding all the millions of buildings that have that defective lock would take time and an immense amount of work. Tatum Hunter And Gerrit De Vynck, Anchorage Daily News, 22 Dec. 2021 More packaging will be wasted, not to mention employee time trying to sort and determine whether goods were damaged or defective. Chris Woodyard, USA TODAY, 18 Dec. 2021 Jason Levine, executive director of the nonprofit Center for Auto Safety, said in an email that NHTSA has the authority to declare the vehicles defective and to seek a recall. Tom Krisher, ajc, 9 Dec. 2021 Tesla also failed to notify its customers that defective electrical connectors could lead to fires, according to the complaint. Reuters, CNN, 6 Dec. 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun After two replacement phones (one defective, the next meant for another customer and locked) and 15 different Apple customer service representatives, Holland, a publicist in Wilmington, N.C., searched online for Jobs’s email address. Washington Post, 23 Feb. 2021

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'defective.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of defective


14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a


1562, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for defective


Middle English defectif, defectyve "lacking, faulty, of poor quality," borrowed from Anglo-French defectif, borrowed from Late Latin dēfectīvus "lacking an inflectional form, imperfect, faulty," from Latin dēfectus, past participle of dēficere "to be lacking, run short, fail" + -īvus -ive — more at deficient


derivative of defective entry 1

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Time Traveler for defective

Time Traveler

The first known use of defective was in the 14th century

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Dictionary Entries Near defective



defective delinquent

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Statistics for defective

Last Updated

11 Jan 2022

Cite this Entry

Defective.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 15 Jan. 2022.

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More Definitions for defective



English Language Learners Definition of defective

: having a problem or fault that prevents something from working correctly : having a defect or flaw


de·​fec·​tive | \ di-ˈfek-tiv How to pronounce defective (audio) \

Kids Definition of defective

: having a defect or flaw The car's brakes were defective.


de·​fec·​tive | \ di-ˈfek-tiv How to pronounce defective (audio) \

Medical Definition of defective

: falling below the norm in structure or function a defective heart valve

Other Words from defective

defectiveness \ -​nəs How to pronounce defective (audio) \ noun

More from Merriam-Webster on defective

Nglish: Translation of defective for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of defective for Arabic Speakers


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