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verb de·fer \di-ˈfər\

Definition of defer


  1. transitive verb
  2. 1 :  put off, delay

  3. 2 :  to postpone induction of (a person) into military service

de·fer·rer noun

Examples of defer

  1. Backers say the arrangement will make patients more cost-conscious and judicious in their use of medical service, thus restraining health-cost increases; critics say it will cause patients to defer needed treatment and will be attractive only to younger, healthier workers. —Wall Street Journal, 9 Jan. 2006

  2. A far stronger signal came when the draft was revived, shortly before the United States entered World War II. Although married men with families were eligible for induction, in many cases up to the age of forty, high school students were automatically deferred. —Thomas Hine, American Heritage, September 1999

  3. The decision was deferred for a time. John didn't want to do anything drastic until after October … —Joe Klein, Payback, 1984

Origin of defer

Middle English deferren, differren, from Middle French differer, from Latin differre to postpone, be different — more at differ

First Known Use: 14th century

Synonym Discussion of defer

defer, postpone, suspend, stay mean to delay an action or proceeding. defer implies a deliberate putting off to a later time <deferred buying a car until spring>. postpone implies an intentional deferring usually to a definite time <the game is postponed until Saturday>. suspend implies temporary stoppage with an added suggestion of waiting until some condition is satisfied <business will be suspended while repairs are under way>. stay often suggests the stopping or checking by an intervening agency or authority <the governor stayed the execution>.



verb de·fer \di-ˈfər\

Definition of defer


  1. transitive verb
  2. :  to delegate to another <he could defer his job to no one — J. A. Michener>

  3. intransitive verb
  4. :  to submit to another's wishes, opinion, or governance usually through deference or respect <deferred to her father's wishes>

Examples of defer

  1. But in 1775, when William chose loyalty to empire over deference to his father, Franklin abruptly, angrily, and permanently broke with his son. Despite having defied his own father (in leaving Boston), Franklin pulled patriarchal rank to demand that his son defer to his politics: “there are natural duties which precede political ones, and cannot be extinguished by them.” —Alan Taylor, New Republic, 13 Jan. 2003

  2. Israelis can be harsh with each other, but they defer to the security guards who check their backpacks at the mall entrances. They put their faith in the Army. —David Brooks, Newsweek, 22 Oct. 2001

Origin of defer

Middle English deferren, differren, from Middle French deferer, defferer, from Late Latin deferre, from Latin, to bring down, bring, from de- + ferre to carry — more at bear

First Known Use: 15th century

Synonym Discussion of defer

yield, submit, capitulate, succumb, relent, defer mean to give way to someone or something that one can no longer resist. yield may apply to any sort or degree of giving way before force, argument, persuasion, or entreaty <yields too easily in any argument>. submit suggests full surrendering after resistance or conflict to the will or control of another <a repentant sinner vowing to submit to the will of God>. capitulate stresses the fact of ending all resistance and may imply either a coming to terms (as with an adversary) or hopelessness in the face of an irresistible opposing force <officials capitulated to the protesters' demands>. succumb implies weakness and helplessness to the one that gives way or an overwhelming power to the opposing force <a stage actor succumbing to the lure of Hollywood>. relent implies a yielding through pity or mercy by one who holds the upper hand <finally relented and let the children stay up late>. defer implies a voluntary yielding or submitting out of respect or reverence for or deference and affection toward another <I defer to your expertise in these matters>.

Seen and Heard

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February 12, 2016

of, relating to, or suggestive of marble

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