def·​er·​en·​tial | \ ˌde-fə-ˈren-chəl How to pronounce deferential (audio) \

Definition of deferential

: 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

Other Words from deferential

deferentially \ ˌde-​fə-​ˈren-​chə-​lē How to pronounce deferential (audio) \ adverb

Synonyms & Antonyms for deferential



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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 The senators say Washington regulators have been too deferential to big banks in recent years and that Ms. Omarova would work to make the financial system more inclusive for consumers. Andrew Ackerman, WSJ, 7 Dec. 2021 Judge Grimm's bottom line is that provision is subject to rational basis review and that the statute satisfies that highly deferential standard. Peter J Reilly, Forbes, 10 Nov. 2021 Indeed, corporations like Apple, which just pulled a Koran app at the request of the Chinese government, are still fairly deferential to state institutions. Joel Mathis, The Week, 19 Oct. 2021 Deutsch, graceful but deferential, does little to push Kaufmann toward a deeper interpretation. Alex Ross, The New Yorker, 25 Oct. 2021 Thus, when women are seen as conforming to traditional female stereotypes—by being helpful, caring, modest and deferential—they are generally well liked but often not considered to be capable of performing challenging leadership roles. Andie Kramer, Forbes, 16 Sep. 2021 In the draw, the U.S. at times appeared to play passively and deferential, a departure from the aggressive mindset that gave the USWNT its fourth World Cup title in 2019. Lorenzo Reyes, USA TODAY, 29 July 2021 Critics of the statue have emphasized not only the deferential position of the two other figures but also Roosevelt’s racist beliefs and actions. Livia Gershon, Smithsonian Magazine, 23 Nov. 2021 And though Kenosha prosecutors filed charges that had the potential to put Rittenhouse in prison for life, the criminal trial also struck many activists as deferential to the defendant. The Associated. Press, Arkansas Online, 21 Nov. 2021

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

1822, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for deferential

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

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Time Traveler for deferential

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The first known use of deferential was in 1822

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Last Updated

19 Jan 2022

Cite this Entry

“Deferential.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 26 Jan. 2022.

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More Definitions for deferential


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

Medical Definition of deferential

More from Merriam-Webster on deferential

Nglish: Translation of deferential for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of deferential for Arabic Speakers


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