defer

verb (1)
de·​fer | \di-ˈfər \
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)
de·​fer | \di-ˈfər \
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

After years of deferring, Sony's finally allowing crossplay between the PS4 and other platforms—for one game. Hayden Dingman, PCWorld, "This week in games: The Xbox 360 controller's continued dominance, Ace Attorney on PC, and The Crew 2's free weekend," 28 Sep. 2018 But some of that money is being deferred, including $4 million of his $19 million salary this year. Tom Haudricourt, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Haudricourt: Does Yu Darvish makes sense for the Brewers now?," 22 Jan. 2018 If Denholm acts independently and isn’t seen as deferring to Musk, that may help with both the SEC and DOJ probes. Elizabeth Lopatto, The Verge, "Tesla’s new chairwoman is walking into SEC and DOJ probes," 9 Nov. 2018 The Lufthansa group, for one, already has a program allowing pilots in training to defer their tuition costs; Emirates opened its own training academy last year, and Qantas and AirAsia have similar initiatives. Barbara Peterson, Condé Nast Traveler, "How the Pilot Shortage Could Change the Way We Fly," 21 Aug. 2018 Also would increase mandatory retirement age for judges from 70 to 75 and provide that judges or hearing officers should not necessarily defer to the interpretation of laws and rules by governmental agencies in legal proceedings. Gray Rohrer, OrlandoSentinel.com, "Packed Florida ballot could bring long lines on Election Day," 18 Apr. 2018 Yet, Ronaldo and Messi are gone and here’s Neymar carrying the team now favored to win the World Cup—a team that, by all appearances, respectfully defers to his genius and takes genuine pleasure in his success. Franklin Foer, The Atlantic, "The Annoying Genius Who Makes the World Cup Worth Watching," 5 July 2018 At one point, Kavanaugh urged judges to defer to the FDA and other scientific agencies, largely on the grounds that courts could not compete with the agencies’ expertise. Lev Facher, STAT, "Brett Kavanaugh, Trump’s pick for court, has left trail of opinions on health care and pharma issues," 10 July 2018 As a teenaged rookie, he was implored by Gregg Popovich to defer to his more established elders at one minute and to take charge of them at the next, and that push-and-pull might have overwhelmed a kid with a weaker will or a thinner skin. Mike Finger, San Antonio Express-News, "Parker’s pride drove Spurs until the end," 6 July 2018

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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Last Updated

5 Dec 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for defer

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

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More Definitions for defer

defer

verb
de·​fer | \di-ˈfər \
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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