def·​er·​en·​tial ˌde-fə-ˈren-chəl How to pronounce deferential (audio)
: showing or expressing respect and high regard due a superior or an elder : showing or expressing deference
listened with deferential attention to his grandfather
deferential to the judge's decision
deferentially adverb

Examples of deferential in a Sentence

the man had the deferential attitude of someone who had been a servant his entire life
Recent Examples on the Web Jeffries’s listening style and frequent communication with members is what many believe has led colleagues to be deferential to his guidance. Jacqueline Alemany, Washington Post, 4 July 2024 The allegations of drug use have even drawn skepticism from some commentators who are often deferential to Trump. Hannah Knowles, Washington Post, 26 June 2024 Respect is slightly too deferential to Franklin, never allowing Hudson’s Aretha to appear as anything less than a saint. Jason P. Frank, Vulture, 8 May 2024 With widespread concern about large gains for right and far-right parties in the EU Parliamentary elections next month, even ostensibly pro-Green Deal politicians, including European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, have been forced to act appropriately deferential to the protesters. Jan Dutkiewicz, Vox, 2 May 2024 See all Example Sentences for deferential 

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'deferential.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


defer(ence) + -ential, by analogy with other Latin-derived words where the suffixes -ence and -ential imply one another (as prudence, prudential)

First Known Use

1822, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of deferential was in 1822

Dictionary Entries Near deferential

Cite this Entry

“Deferential.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 19 Jul. 2024.

Kids Definition


def·​er·​en·​tial ˌdef-ə-ˈren-chəl How to pronounce deferential (audio)
: showing or expressing deference
deferentially adverb

Medical Definition


def·​er·​en·​tial ˌdef-ə-ˈren-chəl How to pronounce deferential (audio)

More from Merriam-Webster on deferential

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