1. having a defect or flaw; faulty; imperfect: a defective machine.
  2. Psychology. characterized by subnormal intelligence or behavior.
  3. Grammar. (of an inflected word or its inflection) lacking one or more of the inflected forms proper to most words of the same class in the language, as English must, which occurs only in the present tense.


  1. a defective person or thing.


  1. having a defect or flaw; imperfect; faulty
  2. (of a person) below the usual standard or level, esp in intelligence
  3. grammar (of a word) lacking the full range of inflections characteristic of its form class, as for example must, which has no past tense

mid-14c., from Middle French défectif (14c.) and directly from Late Latin defectivus, from defect-, past participle stem of deficere (see deficient). A euphemism for “mentally ill” from 1898 to c.1935. Related: Defectively; defectiveness.


  1. Having an imperfection or malformation.
  2. Lacking or deficient in some physical or mental function.

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