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

The uncertainty has already led many firms to shift some operations abroad, stockpile goods or defer investment decisions. Danica Kirka, The Seattle Times, "Honda to shut plant in Brexit-shaken Britain," 20 Feb. 2019 The judge deferred to federal marshals, who rejected the request. Guillermo Contreras, San Antonio Express-News, "S.A. man who carjacked and shot postal worker gets 20 years for crime spree," 12 July 2018 Under the doctrine, courts must generally defer to an agency’s own interpretation of federal statutes when hearing challenges to that agency’s exercise of power. Matt Ford, The New Republic, "A Watershed Moment in American History," 10 July 2018 However, as a cabinet official, punishments are deferred to the president, who issued none. Glenn Fleishman, Fortune, "How Scott Pruitt Blew It: A List of Scandals That Led to the EPA Chief's Resignation," 5 July 2018 When contacted by The Enquirer, Sittenfeld deferred to his spokeswoman, Colleen Reynolds. Scott Wartman, Cincinnati.com, "Why is PG Sittenfeld raising money? An election complaint demands an answer," 5 July 2018 Boatright deferred any comment on his resignation to City Manager Zach Walker, who issued a statement Wednesday. Steve Vockrodt And Mike Hendricks, kansascity, "Acting director of Independence Power & Light to resign after fractious city meeting," 27 June 2018 The Supreme Court has often deferred to law enforcement officers’ judgment, even if mistaken, that deadly force was needed to protect themselves or others. Bob Egelko, SFChronicle.com, "Family of teen killed holding toy gun allowed to sue Sonoma deputy," 25 June 2018 Earlier this week, Mattis deferred questions on the matter to the Department of Homeland Security but did acknowledge the military’s willingness to help with the Trump Administration’s latest crisis. Philip Elliott, Time, "Exclusive: Navy Document Shows Plan to Erect 'Austere' Detention Camps," 22 June 2018

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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Last Updated

14 Mar 2019

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Time Traveler for defer

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

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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

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More from Merriam-Webster on defer

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for defer

Spanish Central: Translation of defer

Nglish: Translation of defer for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of defer for Arabic Speakers

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