deference

noun
def·​er·​ence | \ ˈde-fə-rən(t)s How to pronounce deference (audio) , ˈdef-rən(t)s\

Definition of deference

: respect and esteem due a superior or an elder also : affected or ingratiating regard for another's wishes
in deference to
: in consideration of returned early in deference to her parents' wishes

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Choose the Right Synonym for 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

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.

Examples of deference in a Sentence

Deference to leaders and intolerance toward outsiders (and toward "enemies within") are hallmarks of tribalism … — Benjamin R. Barber, Atlantic, March 1992 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 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 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 Her relatives treat one another with deference. He is shown much deference by his colleagues.
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Recent Examples on the Web

However, federal judges are obligated to provide high deference to arbitrators’ awards (rulings). Michael Mccann, SI.com, "The NFL vs. The NFLPA: New National Anthem Policy Deepens Divide, Prolongs Controversy," 23 May 2018 Other drivers treat you with a sort of cautious deference. Greg Trotter, chicagotribune.com, "Buick LeSabre rolls on in memory of Mamaw," 21 June 2018 Then again, Trump’s fawning over Kim actually exceeds Chamberlain’s deference to Herr Hitler. Frank Rich, Daily Intelligencer, "Trump’s Summit Spectacle Was Just a Momentary Distraction From His Bigger Problems," 13 June 2018 This is because of a certain deference to the office. Peggy Noonan, WSJ, "End This Stupid Shutdown," 10 Jan. 2019 While many onlookers believe the appearance was a stunt, and the Flat Earth Society seemingly disowned Paul’s involvement in the event, Paul’s deference to Mike, who apparently encouraged the YouTube star to attend the conference, is telling. Patricia Hernandez, The Verge, "Meet the babysitter who helps Logan Paul stay out of trouble on YouTube," 3 Dec. 2018 Among the many signs of accommodation and deference that Trump evinced at the Helsinki shamefest was his response to Putin’s offer to let the Mueller team question indicted Russians in exchange for allowing Russia to interrogate American citizens. Lynn Yaeger, Vogue, "The Week in Washington: “Nothing Short of Treasonous”," 22 July 2018 Nimni and O’Keefe pushed back, saying that while deference is necessary, it must be limited to national security. Akilah Johnson, BostonGlobe.com, "In packed courtroom, lawyers spar over fate of ‘protected’ immigrants," 13 July 2018 And 2018 is a time when Americans’ deference to institutional leaders of any stripe is already thin. Daniel Blue Tyx, Washington Post, "U.S. Catholic bishops to minister to children in border detention centers," 2 July 2018

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

1660, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for deference

borrowed from French déférence, going back to Middle French deference "act of submitting," from deferer "to submit to another, defer entry 2" + -ence -ence

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Last Updated

16 Mar 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for deference

The first known use of deference was in 1660

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More Definitions for deference

deference

noun

English Language Learners Definition of deference

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

deference

noun
def·​er·​ence | \ ˈde-fə-rəns How to pronounce deference (audio) , ˈde-frəns\

Kids Definition of deference

: respect and consideration for the wishes of another

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