The Meaning of Defund: What It Is and How To Use It

What is the meaning of defund? This article will teach you about the context in which the word defund is often used and its definition.

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You might have heard the word defund used in many different contexts including policing, banking, and politics. If you’re wondering about the definition of defund and the specifics behind popular related movements in the news, keep reading!

What Does the Word Defund Mean?

The word defund is a verb that means to withdraw monetary support from something. The different forms of the verb defund include defunds, defunded, and defunding. The word defund is two syllables (de-fund) and the pronunciation of defund is dē-ˈfənd.

Defund in Context: Police Brutality

The term defund is commonly used as a rallying cry and slogan by protestors against police brutality in calls to defund the police. Defunding the police in cities like San Francisco, Baltimore, Los Angeles, and New York City would mean reducing police funds and increasing the budgets of other government programs such as those that advocate for homelessness reform.

For example, reducing the NYPD’s budget and putting those financial resources toward social services, mental health reform to support mental illness, and other areas that need financial support could lead to less policing and more assistance for social issues. 

Defund the Police as a Protest

The term defund the police can be heard at protests across America by people determined to end police brutality. These are often associated with the Black Lives Matter movement in the United States, but the two are not mutually exclusive. Often, Democrats are the ones who want to defund the police in favor of community organizations, and Republicans believe that defunding the police or police abolition will lead to increased crime rates.

Protestors will often call for public officials like New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio to implement police reforms, an end to police violence against Black people, and accountability for police officers involved in deaths like those of Breonna Taylor or George Floyd. 

What Is the Etymology of Defund?

The word defund has been used as a verb since the year 1978. Even then, it meant to prevent the continuation of receiving funds. This word comes from the prefix de– or “not,” creating the opposite of the word fund. 

The word fund has been used as a verb since the year 1776 and a noun since the 1670s. The word fund comes from the French word fond, a 12th-century word that means a bottom, ground, stock, or capital.

The French word fond comes from the Latin fundus, which means foundation. It also comes from the Proto-Indo-European root bhudh. This word is also the source of the Greek pythmen, Old English botm, and Sanskrit budhnah

How Can the Word Defund Be Used in a Sentence?

The word defund can be used in numerous contexts but most often refers to defunding the police to support social programs. Study the below example sentences to get a sense of how you can use the word defund. 

They went to the protest and called to defund the police force in the wake of the murder of yet another innocent individual. Not only did they call for defunding the police, but also for more accountability and training.

We decided to defund the business we were supporting when we learned that they were participating in insider trading and other shady activities.

My parents decided to defund my college tuition because I’m wasting my money on unimportant things. They told me that I needed to get a job and pay for my school myself. 

What Are Synonyms of the Word Defund?

There are plenty of words on this list of synonyms from Power Thesaurus that can be used in place of the word defund. The word defund has a specific sociopolitical context and should not be used lightly; if you use the word defund, know that it has strong associations with politics. 

If you are looking for a similar word to defund without the political undertones, try using a synonym in its place:

  • borrow money
  • conceal
  • discourage
  • dissuade
  • divest
  • halt
  • harm
  • hide
  • hinder
  • hobble
  • hold
  • hold back
  • hold out
  • hurt
  • ignore
  • impede
  • inhibit
  • keep
  • keep back
  • neglect
  • obscure
  • obstruct
  • oppose
  • prevent
  • prohibit
  • reject
  • resist
  • stop
  • thwart
  • undermine
  • withhold

What Are Antonyms of the Word Defund?

There are plenty of words from Power Thesaurus with an opposite meaning than defund; these are known as antonyms. If you are searching for a word to use that has the opposite meaning of the word defund, this list can help get you started. Remember, the simplest antonym of the word defund is the word fund. 

  • abet
  • aid
  • assist
  • back
  • bankroll
  • benefit
  • capitalize
  • cover
  • encourage
  • endorse
  • endow
  • enhance
  • favor
  • finance
  • float
  • foster
  • fund
  • give
  • grubstake
  • help
  • hoard
  • inventory
  • invest in
  • juice
  • maintain
  • meet
  • patronize
  • pay
  • pay for
  • pick up the check
  • pick up the tab
  • promote
  • provide
  • reserve
  • sanction
  • serve
  • set up
  • sponsor
  • stake
  • stock
  • store
  • strengthen
  • subsidize
  • subsidize
  • supply
  • support
  • sustain
  • take
  • underwrite


The verb defund means to take money away from or remove financial backing. This term is strongly associated with the phrase defund the police and the Black Lives Matter movement. The word defund has a strong political undertone in the modern-day.


  1. Antonyms of Fund | Power Thesaurus 
  2. 337 Verb Synonyms for Fund | Power Thesaurus 
  3. What does ‘defund the police’ mean and does it have merit? | Brookings