defer

verb (1)
de·​fer | \ di-ˈfər How to pronounce defer (audio) \
deferred; deferring

Definition of defer

 (Entry 1 of 2)

transitive verb

1 : put off, delay
2 : to postpone induction of (a person) into military service

defer

verb (2)
deferred; deferring

Definition of defer (Entry 2 of 2)

transitive verb

: to delegate to another he could defer his job to no one— J. A. Michener

intransitive verb

: to submit to another's wishes, opinion, or governance usually through deference or respect deferred to her father's wishes

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Other Words from defer

Verb (1)

deferrer noun

Choose the Right Synonym for defer

Verb (1)

defer, postpone, suspend, stay mean to delay an action or proceeding. defer implies a deliberate putting off to a later time. deferred buying a car until spring postpone implies an intentional deferring usually to a definite time. the game is postponed until Saturday suspend implies temporary stoppage with an added suggestion of waiting until some condition is satisfied. business will be suspended while repairs are underway stay often suggests the stopping or checking by an intervening agency or authority. the governor stayed the execution

Verb (2)

yield, submit, capitulate, succumb, relent, defer mean to give way to someone or something that one can no longer resist. yield may apply to any sort or degree of giving way before force, argument, persuasion, or entreaty. yields too easily in any argument submit suggests full surrendering after resistance or conflict to the will or control of another. a repentant sinner vowing to submit to the will of God capitulate stresses the fact of ending all resistance and may imply either a coming to terms (as with an adversary) or hopelessness in the face of an irresistible opposing force. officials capitulated to the protesters' demands succumb implies weakness and helplessness to the one that gives way or an overwhelming power to the opposing force. a stage actor succumbing to the lure of Hollywood relent implies a yielding through pity or mercy by one who holds the upper hand. finally relented and let the children stay up late defer implies a voluntary yielding or submitting out of respect or reverence for or deference and affection toward another. I defer to your expertise in these matters

Examples of defer in a Sentence

Verb (1) Backers say the arrangement will make patients more cost-conscious and judicious in their use of medical service, thus restraining health-cost increases; critics say it will cause patients to defer needed treatment and will be attractive only to younger, healthier workers. Wall Street Journal, 9 Jan. 2006 A far stronger signal came when the draft was revived, shortly before the United States entered World War II. Although married men with families were eligible for induction, in many cases up to the age of forty, high school students were automatically deferred. — Thomas Hine, American Heritage, September 1999 The decision was deferred for a time. John didn't want to do anything drastic until after October … — Joe Klein, Payback, 1984 Verb (2) But in 1775, when William chose loyalty to empire over deference to his father, Franklin abruptly, angrily, and permanently broke with his son. Despite having defied his own father (in leaving Boston), Franklin pulled patriarchal rank to demand that his son defer to his politics: "there are natural duties which precede political ones, and cannot be extinguished by them." — Alan Taylor, New Republic, 13 Jan. 2003 Israelis can be harsh with each other, but they defer to the security guards who check their backpacks at the mall entrances. They put their faith in the Army. — David Brooks, Newsweek, 22 Oct. 2001
Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Under the system, when water supplies are low, those with more junior rights have to defer to those with senior claims. Kurtis Alexander, San Francisco Chronicle, 7 Sep. 2021 Texas Tech won the coin toss, but make the decision to defer until the second half. Ryan Mainville, Dallas News, 4 Sep. 2021 The more liberal justices said that was a reason to defer to expert statisticians in the Census Bureau who opposed adding the question. New York Times, 12 Aug. 2021 Others may be able to defer the debt to an interest-free loan at the end of the mortgage. Washington Post, 1 Aug. 2021 But the new interim final rule clarifies that small businesses that are currently waiting for an appeal decision from the SBA’s Office of Hearings and Appeals can defer payment on their loans. cleveland, 30 July 2021 Australia on Friday gained enough international support to defer for two years an attempt by the United Nations' cultural organization to downgrade the Great Barrier Reef's World Heritage status because of damage caused by climate change. Arkansas Online, 24 July 2021 On such a play, a corner outfielder should defer to the center fielder, in this case Slater, and Dickerson was charged with the error. John Shea, San Francisco Chronicle, 27 Aug. 2021 An objective scientist would defer from making pronouncements one way or the other until there is ample evidence. Deborah Yetter, The Courier-Journal, 10 Aug. 2021

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

Verb (1)

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Verb (2)

15th century, in the meaning defined at transitive sense

History and Etymology for defer

Verb (1)

Middle English differren, deferren, borrowed from Anglo-French differer, borrowed (with conjugational change) from Latin differre "to carry away in varying directions, spread abroad, postpone, delay, be unlike or distinct" — more at differ

Note: The verb defer is not distinct etymologically from differ—see note at etymology of that entry. The spelling of the initial unstressed syllable as -e- was perhaps by association with delay entry 2.

Verb (2)

Middle English differen, deferen "to submit (a matter) for decision, submit to another's judgment," borrowed from Middle French deferer, deferrer "to bring (a defendant) before a court, submit to another's will," borrowed (with conjugation change) from Medieval Latin dēferre "to convey, show respect, submit to a decision" (Late Latin, "to pay respect to"), going back to Latin, "to bring down, convey, transfer, submit," from dē- de- + ferre "to carry, convey" — more at bear entry 2

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The first known use of defer was in the 14th century

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Last Updated

12 Sep 2021

Cite this Entry

“Defer.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/defer. Accessed 22 Sep. 2021.

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More Definitions for defer

defer

verb
de·​fer | \ di-ˈfər How to pronounce defer (audio) \
deferred; deferring

Kids Definition of defer

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: to put off to a future time : postpone The test is deferred to next week.

defer

verb
deferred; deferring

Kids Definition of defer (Entry 2 of 2)

: to give in or yield to the opinion or wishes of another

More from Merriam-Webster on defer

Nglish: Translation of defer for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of defer for Arabic Speakers

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