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

Those detained include Loujain al-Hathloul, best known for having defied the driving ban in 2014 and spending 73 days in jail as a result. Summer Said, WSJ, "Saudis Plan to Ease Travel Restrictions on Women," 11 July 2019 Indianapolis Archbishop Charles Thompson forced Cathedral to fire the teacher last month days after Brebeuf Jesuit High School defied a similar order. Washington Post, "Catholic school to help fired teacher find new job," 10 July 2019 After a standoff that lasted more than two weeks, Rackete docked her ship on the island of Lampedusa, defying the authorities. Catherine Kim, Vox, "Vox Sentences: Hero or pirate?," 3 July 2019 There are a few glorious sequences in which Mike and the other Leningrad rockers seize their moment, using their music to stick it to the Man, defy the bureaucrats and blow their audiences’ minds. Justin Chang, chicagotribune.com, "‘Leto’ review: From Russia, a love letter to ’80s rock 'n' roll," 3 July 2019 The town includes a museum, LuLu's Bordello, a church, livery stables, a reptile exhibit and a mystery shack where objects seemingly defy gravity. Arizona Republic, azcentral, "Summer in Arizona: Locals share 100 fun ways to survive the 100-degree heat in Phoenix," 1 July 2019 With the same swiftness that Robin shoots his enemies with arrows, Ludwig shoots down any hint of seriousness or piety that might have crept into the saga of righteous rebels defying the crown. oregonlive.com, "Irreverent spirit lifts Clackamas Rep’s ‘Sherwood: The Adventures of Robin Hood’," 1 July 2019 While fear of that remains, holding stocks down, the eventual government will be some multiparty hodgepodge agreeing on little and doing even less – bullish gridlock, keeping legislative risk low and defying populist dread. Ken Fisher, USA TODAY, "Toast America this July 4th, but run your 401(k) globally," 30 June 2019 That pool where women were defying France’s burkini ban? Claire Zillman, Fortune, "Why Female CEOs Are Outnumbered by Jeffreys: Broadsheet for June 28," 28 June 2019

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

15 Jul 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

Comments on defy

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