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

There’s not much distance between this kind of hazy originalism and deference to the Founders and Ahmari’s implied vision of American cultural conformity. Osita Nwanevu, The New Republic, "The Right Wing’s Cultural Civil War Is a Drag," 9 Sep. 2019 And although only glancing references are made to the Mueller investigation and Russia's U.S. election manipulation, anyone aware of Donald Trump's deference toward Putin will feel a certain queasiness watching this insidious saga unfold. David Rooney, The Hollywood Reporter, "'Citizen K': Film Review | Venice 2019," 31 Aug. 2019 There are some Beijing-loyalists in the city who, out of blind deference to China’s authoritarian regime, support sending in troops to quash our movement. The Economist, "“We long to see a Hong Kong free from tyranny”," 31 Aug. 2019 In a sense, running against a colleague feels out of character for Kennedy, a man who exudes politeness, even deference. Adrian Walker, BostonGlobe.com, "Can a member of America’s oldest political dynasty sell himself as a voice for change?," 27 Aug. 2019 Radek Sikorski, the former foreign minister caught grumbling about Poland’s alleged deference to the U.S., resigned along with three ministers four months before the 2015 election. Washington Post, "Was Polish scandal a Russian test for US election tampering?," 4 Aug. 2019 Many contemporary ethicists, however, believe that inequalities of wealth that are produced by exceptional individual productivity rising from exceptional natural aptitudes do not deserve society’s deference or protection. George Will, Twin Cities, "George Will: Is the individual obsolete?," 17 July 2019 But the divisions, when expressed publicly, were done so with deference. NBC News, "World leaders may have found a way to handle Trump," 26 Aug. 2019 But that January, Pelosi not only responded to the Administration’s plea for an antirecession program but, in deference to the White House’s antispending obsession, agreed to rely on tax rebates for the short-term stimulus. Barney Frank, Time, "We Need Bipartisanship to Fix the Economy. That Seems Impossible Right Now," 22 Aug. 2019

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

14 Sep 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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Comments on deference

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