noun def·er·ence \ˈde-fə-rən(t)s, ˈdef-rən(t)s\

Definition of deference

  1. :  respect and esteem due a superior or an elder; also :  affected or ingratiating regard for another's wishes

in deference to

  1. :  in consideration of returned early in deference to her parents' wishes

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Examples of deference in a sentence

  1. Deference to leaders and intolerance toward outsiders (and toward “enemies within”) are hallmarks of tribalism … —Benjamin R. Barber, Atlantic, March 1992

  2. In the 1980s, in deference to the neighborhoods, City Hall would attempt a counter-reformation of downtown, forbidding “Manhattanization.” —Richard Rodriguez, Harper's, October 1990

  3. She could have subtly appealed to the deference … she knew was still in there, encoded in their middle-aged hearts; she never did. —Peggy Noonan, New York Times Magazine, 16 Dec. 1990

  4. A sense of deference to the upper class among whites made it possible, in Sproat's estimation, for white leaders to contain the white supremacists. —Robert L. Harris, Jr., American Historical Review, December 1987

  5. Her relatives treat one another with deference.

  6. He is shown much deference by his colleagues.

Did You Know?

The words deference and defer both derive from the Latin deferre, which means "to bring down" or "to carry away." At the same time you might also hear that defer traces to the Latin differre, which means "to postpone" or "to differ." Which root is right? Both. That's because English has two verbs, or homographs, spelled defer. One means "to submit or delegate to another" (as in "I defer to your greater expertise"). That's the one that is closely related to deference and that comes from deferre. The other means "to put off or delay" (as in "we decided to defer the decision until next month"); that second defer derives from differre.

Origin and Etymology of deference

see 2defer

First Known Use: 1660

Synonym Discussion of deference

honor, homage, reverence, deference mean respect and esteem shown to another. honor may apply to the recognition of one's right to great respect or to any expression of such recognition. the nomination is an honor homage adds the implication of accompanying praise. paying homage to Shakespeare reverence implies profound respect mingled with love, devotion, or awe. great reverence for my father deference implies a yielding or submitting to another's judgment or preference out of respect or reverence. showed no deference to their elders

DEFERENCE Defined for English Language Learners


noun def·er·ence \ˈde-fə-rən(t)s, ˈdef-rən(t)s\

Definition of deference for English Language Learners

  • : a way of behaving that shows respect for someone or something

DEFERENCE Defined for Kids


noun def·er·ence \ˈde-fə-rəns, ˈde-frəns\

Definition of deference for Students

  1. :  respect and consideration for the wishes of another

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