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

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 Provides tax relief to businesses by deferring tax payments, increasing deductibility for interest expenses and allowing immediate expensing of qualified property improvements, especially for the hospitality industry. USA Today, "Congress' $2 trillion coronavirus stimulus package, visualized," 23 Mar. 2020 And last week the State Department sent out advice to program sponsors — such as ECFMG — urging them to either cancel the programs or defer the start dates. Helen Branswell, STAT, "As coronavirus spreads, thousands of foreign doctors could be blocked from U.S. entry, group warns," 23 Mar. 2020 The governor’s office said taxpayers can also defer state income tax payments due on April 15 to July 15 without penalties and interest no matter the amount owed. Mike Cason | Mcason@al.com, al, "Gov. Kay Ivey delays state income tax deadline to July 15," 23 Mar. 2020 Customers who defer payments on mortgages, for example, will end up with payments added to the end of the loan. Susan Tompor, Detroit Free Press, "How to pay the bills during the coronavirus crisis," 21 Mar. 2020 Tourism, though, brings in more than $40 billion a year, and DeSantis has been hesitant, instead deferring to local municipalities to decide whether to close. Leah Asmelash And Hollie Silverman, CNN, "Panama City Beach and the Florida Keys announce beach closures amidst coronavirus pandemic," 20 Mar. 2020 Companies could help by deferring EMI payments for vehicles, doling out future income and clearing past dues, independent startup sector analyst Harish HV says. Ananya Bhattacharya, Quartz India, "In India’s coronavirus-hit economy, on-demand startups have it the worst," 20 Mar. 2020 Clients with business loans can apply for loan modification programs or make interest-only payments instead of deferring those payments, according to the release. Madeline Mitchell, Cincinnati.com, "Fifth Third, First Financial pledge nearly $10 million to COVID-19 relief efforts," 20 Mar. 2020 Chief Jefferson Circuit Judge Angela Bisig McCormick said judges are reviewing cases assigned to their court or deferring to the chief or deputy chief judge. Andrew Wolfson, The Courier-Journal, "More than 100 pretrial defendants to be released from jail to avoid coronavirus spread," 17 Mar. 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.

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

27 Mar 2020

Cite this Entry

“Defer.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/defer. Accessed 31 Mar. 2020.

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

Spanish Central: Translation of 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

See Definitions and Examples »

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

March 2020 Words of the Day Quiz

  • field of crocuses
  • Which is a synonym of rectitudinous?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

TAKE THE QUIZ
Bee Cubed

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

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!