defy

verb
de·​fy | \ di-ˈfī How to pronounce defy (audio) , 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 How to pronounce defy (audio) , ˈdē-ˌfī How to pronounce defy (audio) \
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

As proof, there’s a teaser (shown above) featuring a death-defying car jump typical of these speed fiends. Nick Romano, EW.com, "Fast & Furious animated series careens towards Netflix with first teaser," 13 June 2019 The genre-defying brand incorporates Yoon’s childhood on the west coast with Japanse streetwear trends. Tatum Dooley, Teen Vogue, "Jewelry Designer Yoon Ahn Shares New Bracelet Featuring Colorful Flashing Lights," 12 June 2019 Mixing pomp, circumstance, and death-defying speeds, the Indy 500 has transcended mere auto racing to become a must-watch event like the Kentucky Derby or the Super Bowl. Rich Ceppos, Car and Driver, "Everything You Need to Know about the Indianapolis 500," 25 May 2019 Who could forget rebel Kristen Stewart's barefoot walk up the red carpet last May, or Susan Sarandon's epic age-defying leg moment alongside a pair of sunnies? Jenna Rennert, Vogue, "Marion Cotillard Breaks Red Carpet Beauty Rules With an Ab Reveal at Cannes," 22 May 2019 What motivates him to take such death-defying motorcycle trips? Sam Blum, Popular Mechanics, "This Man Is Riding a Motorcycle Across Siberia to the Coldest Inhabited Place on Earth. But Why?," 29 Jan. 2019 Aimee Spinks After enduring many months of Droughtlander, Outlander, and everyone's favorite century-defying couple, is back. Outlander Fan, Marie Claire, "5 Biggest Takeaways From 'Outlander' Season 4 Episode 11," 14 Jan. 2019 On Saturday, death-defying stunt man and magician DAVID BLAINE heads to Detroit for a Fox Theatre show that’s hopefully a bit less abusive and painful. Greg Crawford, Detroit Free Press, "Plan your weekend: Rib Fest; magic of David Blaine; art in Ferndale, Wyandotte," 5 July 2018 The Sky Pad is a gravity-defying trampoline zone that is paired with virtual reality goggles. Ellie Rushing, Sun-Sentinel.com, "Royal Caribbean invests $120 million in one ship for short Bahamas cruises," 25 June 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

17 Jun 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 How to pronounce defy (audio) \
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

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