deference

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

Keep scrolling for more

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.
See More

Recent Examples on the Web

That plot summary glosses over a significant chunk of Overlord’s story, in deference to the J.J. Abrams mystery box. Bryan Bishop, The Verge, "Overlord is a gloriously entertaining piece of B-movie schlock," 9 Nov. 2018 Malaysia has claims to territory in the South China Sea that overlap with those of China, but under Mahathir's predecessors, took a low-key approach to asserting those in deference to strongly positive ties with Beijing. Christopher Bodeen, Fox News, "Recent developments surrounding the South China Sea," 27 Aug. 2018 But Justice Neil Gorsuch, who is the newest member of the bench, is a skeptic of Chevron deference. Akilah Johnson, BostonGlobe.com, "Supreme Court hears case involving Brazilian immigrant who lives on Martha’s Vineyard," 23 Apr. 2018 The conspiracy of silence extended beyond church grounds: police or prosecutors sometimes did not investigate allegations out of deference to church officials or brushed off complaints as outside the statute of limitations, the grand jury said. Fox News, "Report: Pennsylvania priests abused over 1,000 children," 15 Aug. 2018 The conspiracy of silence extended beyond church grounds: police or prosecutors sometimes did not investigate allegations out of deference to church officials or brushed off complaints as outside the statute of limitations, the grand jury said. Marc Levy, The Seattle Times, "Report: Pennsylvania priests abused over 1,000 children," 14 Aug. 2018 There has been a deference provided to the picks of the president, either cabinet picks, Supreme Court picks, going back historically. Fox News, "The politics of filling a Supreme Court vacancy," 10 July 2018 The question before the Supreme Court during an hour-long oral argument was how much deference U.S. courts owe to foreign-government characterizations of their own laws. Brent Kendall, WSJ, "Supreme Court Weighs Price-Fixing Case Against Chinese Vitamin C Makers," 24 Apr. 2018 There has been a deference that has been given in the past,’’ Murphy said. Christopher Keating, courant.com, "Blumenthal, Murphy Highly Concerned About Trump's Supreme Court Pick," 9 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.

See More

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about deference

Listen to Our Podcast about deference

Statistics for deference

Last Updated

7 Dec 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for deference

The first known use of deference was in 1660

See more words from the same year

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for deference

deference

noun

English Language Learners Definition of deference

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

deference

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

Kids Definition of deference

: respect and consideration for the wishes of another

Keep scrolling for more

Comments on deference

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

WORD OF THE DAY

to enclose within walls

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Late Autumn 2018 Words of the Day Quiz

  • frosted-autumn-leaves
  • Which is a synonym of yahoo?
True or False

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

TAKE THE QUIZ
Word Winder's CrossWinder

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!