Could you think of a sentence where the word defeat or defeated makes an ambiguity?-- that's a situation which you couldn't get whether the word defeated means winning or not?

Please feel free to ask any question to make the question more specific

Any help would be greatly appreciated

  • 1
    Defeated never means winning, it always means losing. "He won that battle, yet was ultimately defeated" = he lost the war. Dec 28, 2014 at 11:26

1 Answer 1


Ambiguous sentences are a valid field of research in linguistics.

Ambiguity relative to actually winning/losing can be created by using it to describe a feeling:

  • "Jane felt defeated." Jane could have felt defeated despite winning. Or maybe there was no contest at all. We really don't know anything about her winning or losing or anything other than her emotional state.

An ambiguity can be created semantically via a question which forces ambiguity on the meaning of the word:

  • "You said you were defeated, but if you think about it, did you actually lose?"

  • "He was defeated but did he actually lose?"

Ambiguity can be created via a semantic conflict:

  • "He was defeated but he did not lose." We don't know what this sentence means.

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