defer

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

Definition of defer

 (Entry 1 of 2)

transitive verb

1 : put off, delay
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

Keep scrolling for more

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 Officials could then defer increasing the clean power requirements for that company for one year, according to the bill text. Abby Smith, Washington Examiner, "Democrats put a loophole in their climate bill," 4 Apr. 2021 The previous two seasons, Taylor would defer to older teammates in Trevon Jones and Kajuan Wines. Pat Disabato, chicagotribune.com, "King Anthony: Taylor continues to be a ‘one-man show’ with another double-double as Richards rolls past Eisenhower," 6 Mar. 2021 If given the chance following a pregame coin toss, the Cowboys coach would rather defer possession until the second half. Michael Gehlken, Dallas News, "Just what Mike McCarthy ordered: Cowboys finally got their coveted ‘Whataburger double with cheese’ vs. Eagles," 27 Dec. 2020 Rookies too often defer to elders in shooting situations. BostonGlobe.com, "Bruins will self-quarantine through Tuesday after David Pastrnak, four others enter COVID-19 protocols," 20 Mar. 2021 Additionally, a housing developer can defer up to 80 percent of annual property taxes up to $7.6 million to help cover construction costs. Steve Bittenbender, Washington Examiner, "Kentucky AG concerned American Rescue Plan rules could hurt state," 19 Mar. 2021 Schmidt will also defer to a future ruling on retroactivity, according to spokesperson Brent Weisberg. oregonlive, "Nonunanimous juries — recently ruled unconstitutional — convicted hundreds sitting in Oregon prisons. Now, they want a fair trial.," 18 Mar. 2021 In general, Blatt will defer to the most powerful person in a room. Amanda Chicago Lewis, Wired, "Sex Tapes, Hush Money, and Hollywood’s Economy of Secrets," 25 Feb. 2021 For some, the trick was to defer gracefully to whoever had the strictest regime. Nick Paumgarten, The New Yorker, "New York’s Year of COVID," 7 Mar. 2021

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.

See More

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about defer

Time Traveler for defer

Time Traveler

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

See more words from the same century

Listen to Our Podcast about defer

Statistics for defer

Last Updated

9 Apr 2021

Cite this Entry

“Defer.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/defer. Accessed 19 Apr. 2021.

Style: MLA
MLACheck Mark Icon ChicagoCheck Mark Icon APACheck Mark Icon Merriam-WebsterCheck Mark Icon

Keep scrolling for more

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

Keep scrolling for more

More from Merriam-Webster on defer

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for defer

Nglish: Translation of defer for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of defer for Arabic Speakers

Comments on defer

What made you want to look up defer? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).

WORD OF THE DAY

Test Your Vocabulary

The Exceptions Quiz III

  • one green toy robot amidst many red toy robots
  • Which of these words does not mean "nonsense"?
True or False

Test your knowledge - and maybe learn something along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ
Universal Daily Crossword

A daily challenge for crossword fanatics.

TAKE THE QUIZ
Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!