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

Paul also during his two seasons in Houston displayed a willingness to move off the ball in deference to James Harden. Ira Winderman,, "Heat speculation turns from Westbrook chase to Chris Paul," 12 July 2019 Trump is expected announce executive actions to allow a citizenship question, two administration officials said, speaking on condition of anonymity in deference to the president's announcement. David Jackson, USA TODAY, "Trump to order citizenship question on census, despite Supreme Court," 8 July 2019 After David Price made his 1⅓ -inning start against the Rangers last week, the Red Sox made a proactive decision to limit his pitches on Tuesday in deference to their efforts to keep the 33-year-old healthy for the long haul. Alex Speier,, "Strong finish to a tough stretch has Red Sox feeling optimistic," 20 June 2019 The justices took up the case to revisit what’s known as Auer deference, a doctrine whereby courts defer to federal agencies’ reasonable reading of ambiguous regulations. Matt Ford, The New Republic, "The Supreme Court Steps to the Right," 1 July 2019 Frammil Reyes, originally batting fifth, moved into the clean-up spot, Josh Naylor replaced Renfroe in left field and Wil Myers remained on the bench in deference to Manuel Margot in center field. San Diego Union-Tribune, "Padres notes: Lefty troubles; Renfroe scratched, Myers still sitting," 29 June 2019 Oberlin, in particular, has provoked conservatives' ire for its apparent deference to politically correct ideas. Fox News, "Oberlin College to pay bakery the now-massive sum of $44M over racism dispute," 14 June 2019 In deference to that, both teams used only backup and junior varsity pitchers and began pulling their top hitters after three innings. James Weber,, "Beechwood baseball's dream season ends in KHSAA Elite 8 after tough 8th inning," 29 May 2019 To some, this self-confidence, lack of deference and sense of authority will be taken as arrogance. Danny Wallace, Time, "A Waiter Was Fired for Bad Manners. But Was He Super Rude or Just French?," 28 Mar. 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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Statistics for deference

Last Updated

20 Jul 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



English Language Learners Definition of deference

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


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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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).


appealing forcibly to the mind or reason

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