de·​fi·​ance | \ di-ˈfī-ən(t)s How to pronounce defiance (audio) , dē- \

Definition of defiance

1 : the act or an instance of defying : challenge jailed for defiance of a court order
2 : 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

Keep scrolling for more

Examples of defiance in a Sentence

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 Ontario’s finance minister resigned Thursday after provoking outrage for taking a holiday in the Caribbean earlier this month in defiance of his own government’s pandemic safety guidelines. Bradford Betz, Fox News, "Ontario's finance minister resigns after taking Caribbean holiday amid pandemic," 1 Jan. 2021 In the run-up to November’s election, Trump crisscrossed the nation, holding mass rallies — sometimes in spite of objections from local authorities — and in defiance of guidance from his coronavirus task force. Jeremy Redmon, ajc, "Trump rally divides N. Georgia community hit hard by COVID-19," 1 Jan. 2021 Both officials exhorted Texas restaurants to remain open in defiance of the orders, which were upheld by a district judge Thursday. Shannon Najmabadi,, "Austin won’t be allowed to restrict dining-in at restaurants, Texas Supreme Court says," 1 Jan. 2021 For nearly three decades, David Fincher has been making gorgeous bummer movies that — in defiance of Hollywood’s first principle — insist that happy endings are a lie. New York Times, "David Fincher, the Unhappiest Auteur," 1 Jan. 2021 An Oregon mayor is attempting to spark a movement to have businesses across the state open their doors in defiance of Gov. Kate Brown’s strict restrictions. Michael Lee, Washington Examiner, "Oregon mayor attempting to spark movement to defy Gov. Kate Brown's virus restrictions," 30 Dec. 2020 To date, the state has withheld federal funding from two cities in the Central Valley, Atwater and Coalinga, for allowing businesses to remain open in defiance of state and local health orders. Angela Hart California Healthline, Los Angeles Times, "Newsom relies on education over fines to enforce virus edicts. New York is different," 22 Dec. 2020 Two weeks ago, the Boardwalk Bar and Grill in East Grand Forks opened in defiance of the order. James Walsh, Star Tribune, "Defiance of COVID restrictions is a political act for some Minnesota restaurants and bars," 22 Dec. 2020 Noem's tweet also shared a Star Tribune article that highlighted the stories of bars that decided to open in defiance of Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz’s executive order banning indoor dining. Michael Lee, Washington Examiner, "Kristi Noem urges frustrated Minnesota business owners to move to South Dakota: 'We respect your rights'," 21 Dec. 2020

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'defiance.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

See More

First Known Use of defiance

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for defiance

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about defiance

Time Traveler for defiance

Time Traveler

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

See more words from the same century

Statistics for defiance

Last Updated

13 Jan 2021

Cite this Entry

“Defiance.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 24 Jan. 2021.

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for defiance


How to pronounce defiance (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of defiance

: a refusal to obey something or someone : the act of defying someone or something


de·​fi·​ance | \ di-ˈfī-əns How to pronounce defiance (audio) \

Kids Definition of defiance

1 : a refusal to obey a defiance of the rule
2 : a willingness to resist Obedience school cured the dog of defiance.

Keep scrolling for more

Comments on defiance

What made you want to look up defiance? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


Test Your Vocabulary

Slippery Words Quiz—Changing with the Times

  • ducreux self portrait yawning
  • What is an earlier meaning of nice?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?


Anagram puzzles meet word search.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!