1

defy

verb de·fy \ di-ˈfī , dē- \
|Updated on: 12 Aug 2018

Definition of defy

defied; defying
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

Examples of defy in a Sentence

  1. She defied her parents and dropped out of school.

  2. The group has continued to defy all efforts to stop them.

Recent Examples of defy from the Web

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.

Origin and Etymology of defy

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 1faith
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.


2

defy

noun de·fy \ di-ˈfī , ˈdē-ˌ \

Definition of defy

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

Origin and Etymology of defy

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



DEFY Defined for English Language Learners

defy

Definition of defy for English Language Learners

  • : to refuse to obey (something or someone)

  • : to make (something) very difficult or impossible

  • : to resist or fight (something)


DEFY Defined for Kids

defy

verb de·fy \ di-ˈfī \

Definition of defy for Students

defied; defying
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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