de·​fi·​ance di-ˈfī-ən(t)s How to pronounce defiance (audio)
: the act or an instance of defying : challenge
jailed for defiance of a court order
: disposition to resist : willingness to contend or fight
dealing with a child's defiance
in defiance of
: contrary to : despite
seemingly in defiance of the laws of physics
He returned to the pulpit May 22 in defiance of an order by church leaders banning him from television preaching for one year.Daniel E. Kubiske

Example Sentences

any defiance of the authoritarian regime would have dire consequences the troubled youth seems to have an ingrained defiance to authority of any sort
Recent Examples on the Web The pressure from his right helps explain the bursts of defiance the speaker has shown at times during the negotiations, and why Republicans have hinted that no deal is likely to materialize until a default is truly imminent. Luke Broadwater, New York Times, 23 May 2023 The announcement came after protesters flooded streets across France on Thursday, clashing with police in Paris and other cities in a burst of defiance after French President Emmanuel Macron pushed through a pension reform bill. Ellen Francis, Washington Post, 24 Mar. 2023 Overt defiance has been largely, and literally, exiled. Dennis Harvey, Variety, 7 May 2023 In essays and posts on Chinese social media, fans regularly celebrate her defiance of patriarchal norms, her rejection of nationalism and her delight in everyday matters. Lisa Movius, Washington Post, 3 May 2023 Her defiance and irreverence seem completely of our times — and are what has made her picture so enduring. Marianna Cerini, CNN, 16 Mar. 2023 For months, Ukraine’s defense of the eastern city has held up and worn down Russian forces while serving as a potent symbol of the country’s defiance. Mithil Aggarwal, NBC News, 16 Mar. 2023 Many employees who view their managers as jerks choose undercover status and silent defiance. Lynne Curry | Alaska Workplace, Anchorage Daily News, 13 Mar. 2023 Almost all of that group also voted to certify the 2020 Electoral College results, in defiance of Mr. Trump and a vast majority of House Republicans. Charlie Smart, New York Times, 23 Feb. 2023 See More

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

Word History


Middle English diffiaunce, defyaunce, borrowed from Anglo-French defiance, difiaunce, from defier, desfier "to renounce, challenge, defy entry 1" + -ance, -aunce -ance

First Known Use

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of defiance was in the 15th century

Dictionary Entries Near defiance

Cite this Entry

“Defiance.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 7 Jun. 2023.

Kids Definition


de·​fi·​ance di-ˈfī-ən(t)s How to pronounce defiance (audio)
: the act or an instance of defying : challenge
: a tendency to resist : contempt of opposition

More from Merriam-Webster on defiance

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