defer

verb (1)
de·​fer | \ di-ˈfər How to pronounce defer (audio) \
deferred; deferring

Definition of defer

 (Entry 1 of 2)

transitive verb

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

defer

verb (2)
deferred; deferring

Definition of defer (Entry 2 of 2)

transitive verb

: to delegate to another he could defer his job to no one— J. A. Michener

intransitive verb

: to submit to another's wishes, opinion, or governance usually through deference or respect deferred to her father's wishes

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Other Words from defer

Verb (1)

deferrer noun

Choose the Right Synonym for defer

Verb (1)

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 underway stay often suggests the stopping or checking by an intervening agency or authority. the governor stayed the execution

Verb (2)

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

Examples of defer in a Sentence

Verb (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 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 The decision was deferred for a time. John didn't want to do anything drastic until after October … — Joe Klein, Payback, 1984 Verb (2) 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 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
Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Castellanos will make $16 million in the 2020 season, but $6 million is slightly deferred. Bobby Nightengale, Cincinnati.com, "Cincinnati Reds not expected to make more moves before the start of spring training," 7 Feb. 2020 Clemson's dynasty is deferred and delayed, but only momentarily. Paul Myerberg, USA TODAY, "The better team won national title game, but Clemson knows it'll be back for another run," 14 Jan. 2020 And yet in the West, a certainty remained that China would eventually resurrect the dream of democracy that was deferred that night. Laignee Barron / Hong Kong, Time, "How the Tiananmen Square Massacre Changed China Forever," 4 June 2019 This time, instead of an acrobatic attempt through two Indiana defenders, the reigning Big Ten player of the year deferred. Chris Solari, Detroit Free Press, "As Cassius Winston rides emotional roller coaster, so does Michigan State basketball," 24 Jan. 2020 Milwaukee's Health Department declined to comment on specific preparations being made for coronavirus, deferring questions to the state. Mark Johnson, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Six UW-Platteville students recently at ground zero for the coronavirus are now being monitored," 23 Jan. 2020 That means Strand sometimes defer to the chief paramedic, the headstrong Michelle Blake (Liv Tyler). Bill Keveney, USA TODAY, "Rob Lowe: '9-1-1: Lone Star' spinoff charts its own path, but keeps 'those OMG TV moments'," 18 Jan. 2020 At the urging of shareholders and regulators, banks since the financial crisis have tied more of their executives’ pay to performance and deferred more of it into the future. Liz Hoffman, WSJ, "Morgan Stanley Cuts CEO James Gorman’s Bonus," 17 Jan. 2020 Both organizations recommend deferring genital surgery until a person is at least 18. NBC News, "South Dakota bill would make trans health care for minors a felony," 16 Jan. 2020

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'defer.' 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 defer

Verb (1)

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Verb (2)

15th century, in the meaning defined at transitive sense

History and Etymology for defer

Verb (1)

Middle English differren, deferren, borrowed from Anglo-French differer, borrowed (with conjugational change) from Latin differre "to carry away in varying directions, spread abroad, postpone, delay, be unlike or distinct" — more at differ

Note: The verb defer is not distinct etymologically from differ—see note at etymology of that entry. The spelling of the initial unstressed syllable as -e- was perhaps by association with delay entry 2.

Verb (2)

Middle English differen, deferen "to submit (a matter) for decision, submit to another's judgment," borrowed from Middle French deferer, deferrer "to bring (a defendant) before a court, submit to another's will," borrowed (with conjugation change) from Medieval Latin dēferre "to convey, show respect, submit to a decision" (Late Latin, "to pay respect to"), going back to Latin, "to bring down, convey, transfer, submit," from dē- de- + ferre "to carry, convey" — more at bear entry 2

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Time Traveler for defer

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

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Last Updated

14 Feb 2020

Cite this Entry

“Defer.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/defer. Accessed 19 Feb. 2020.

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More Definitions for defer

defer

verb
de·​fer | \ di-ˈfər How to pronounce defer (audio) \
deferred; deferring

Kids Definition of defer

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: to put off to a future time : postpone The test is deferred to next week.

defer

verb
deferred; deferring

Kids Definition of defer (Entry 2 of 2)

: to give in or yield to the opinion or wishes of another

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More from Merriam-Webster on defer

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for defer

Spanish Central: Translation of defer

Nglish: Translation of defer for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of defer for Arabic Speakers

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