defy

verb
de·​fy | \ di-ˈfī, dē-\
defied; defying

Definition of defy

 (Entry 1 of 2)

transitive verb

1 : to confront with assured power of resistance : disregard defy public opinion in trouble for defying a court order
2 : to resist attempts at : withstand the paintings defy classification a decision that defies all logic
3 : to challenge to do something considered impossible : dare defied us to name a better movie
4 archaic : to challenge to combat

defy

noun
de·​fy | \ di-ˈfī, ˈdē-ˌ \
plural defies

Definition of defy (Entry 2 of 2)

: challenge, defiance observers took this to be a form of defy— Jack Alexander

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Synonyms & Antonyms for defy

Synonyms: Verb

disobey, mock, rebel (against)

Antonyms: Verb

comply (with), conform (to), follow, mind, obey

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Examples of defy in a Sentence

Verb

She defied her parents and dropped out of school. The group has continued to defy all efforts to stop them.

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Along with the sublime, there’s a compelling sideshow: acts whose crazy brilliance is their ability to defy categorization. Bill Keveney, USA TODAY, "'America's Got Talent:' The 5 craziest auditions, plus that just-too-weird reject," 19 June 2018 Lecrae’s career has, in some ways, come to defy categorization. Juan Vidal, Billboard, "Lecrae on New Album 'Let the Trap Say Amen' & The True Heart of the South," 19 June 2018 Attempting to defy the sanctions, Iran’s leaders shored up the social safety net and arrested hundreds of people suspected of corruptly profiting from the country’s distress. WSJ, "Year of Living Dangerously With Friends and Foes," 17 Dec. 2018 Wagner has continued to defy the odds with his team this season. SI.com, "Why Miracle Worker David Wagner Should've Been Named Manager of the Year Over Pep Guardiola," 16 May 2018 The actress, who turns 56 today, has transformed her look for countless roles and along the way, managed to defy all boundaries of aging. Jenna Rennert, Vogue, "At 56, Demi Moore Has Never Looked Better," 11 Nov. 2018 Of course, just as with Kickstarter, that’s more of a marketing half-truth than a reality, and the new OnePlus 6T shows a company willing to defy and disappoint its most ardent fans. Vlad Savov, The Verge, "OnePlus 6T review: revised formula, same results," 29 Oct. 2018 Alice is the model that Willa, transplanted to Southern California, is determined to defy with her own children. Laura Collins-hughes, BostonGlobe.com, "Waking up is hard to do," 13 July 2018 Croatia have relied on mental strength to defy limited resources and become the smallest nation in 68 years to reach a World Cup final, said defender Dejan Lovren. Kieran Canning, chicagotribune.com, "Lovren: 'our mentality' carried Croatia to the World Cup final," 12 July 2018

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

Verb

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 4

Noun

1580, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for defy

Verb

Middle English defien "to renounce, disavow, scorn, challenge to fight," borrowed from Anglo-French defier, desfier, from de-, des- de- + fier "to pledge, trust in, rely on," going back to Vulgar Latin *fīdāre, re-formation of Latin fīdere "to trust (in), have confidence (in)" — more at faith entry 1

Note: The sense history was perhaps "to break faith with" > "to scorn" > "to challenge to a fight," though the latter meaning appears to be the earliest in Old French.

Noun

in part borrowed from Middle French deffy, noun derivative of defier "to challenge, defy entry 1," in part derivative of defy entry 1

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Statistics for defy

Last Updated

14 Jan 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for defy

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

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More Definitions for defy

defy

verb

English Language Learners Definition of defy

: to refuse to obey (something or someone)

: to make (something) very difficult or impossible

: to resist or fight (something)

defy

verb
de·​fy | \ di-ˈfī \
defied; defying

Kids Definition of defy

1 : to refuse boldly to obey or yield to The protesters defied orders to leave.
2 : to challenge to do something thought to be impossible : dare I defy you to explain the trick.
3 : to resist attempts at : withstand The scene defies description.

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More from Merriam-Webster on defy

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with defy

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for defy

Spanish Central: Translation of defy

Nglish: Translation of defy for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of defy for Arabic Speakers

Comments on defy

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