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

Antonyms: Verb

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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 The comedy series follows best friends Issa (Rae) and Molly (Orji) as the pair navigates the challenges of being Black women who defy stereotypes. Vanessa Etienne, PEOPLE.com, 11 June 2021 Police said water cannons would be used against those who defy the Paris ban. BostonGlobe.com, 15 May 2021 While police set up highway checkpoints and domestic flights and other modes of transportation were suspended, anxiety lingers that people will defy the prohibition. Niniek Karmini, USA TODAY, 13 May 2021 While police set up highway checkpoints and domestic flights and other modes of transportation were suspended, anxiety lingers that people will defy the prohibition. Niniek Karmini, Star Tribune, 13 May 2021 But the lesson is that Trump would defy history to win reelection amid such a cascade of crises and voter dissatisfaction. The Associated Press, NOLA.com, 2 Nov. 2020 But the lesson is that Trump would defy history to win reelection amid such a cascade of crises and voter dissatisfaction. Bill Barrow, chicagotribune.com, 2 Nov. 2020 Whether this crop of young drivers can start to defy the numbers and begin to chip away at Ganassi’s doubt, or fall in line with history and leave maybe just one standing in a year or two, will begin to take shape Sunday. Nathan Brown, The Indianapolis Star, 29 May 2021 In stunning fashion, Dallas continued to defy normal shooting probability and was clearly the aggressor in the opening stretch. Shane Young, Forbes, 29 May 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun But like crab and oysters, artichokes rest in a sort of alien realm where their distinct flavor and form defy neat categorization. Tribune News Service, cleveland, 26 Apr. 2021 But like crab and oysters, artichokes rest in a sort of alien realm where their distinct flavor and form defy neat categorization. Tribune News Service, cleveland, 26 Apr. 2021 But like crab and oysters, artichokes rest in a sort of alien realm where their distinct flavor and form defy neat categorization. Tribune News Service, cleveland, 26 Apr. 2021 But like crab and oysters, artichokes rest in a sort of alien realm where their distinct flavor and form defy neat categorization. Tribune News Service, cleveland, 26 Apr. 2021 But like crab and oysters, artichokes rest in a sort of alien realm where their distinct flavor and form defy neat categorization. Tribune News Service, cleveland, 26 Apr. 2021 Some of the discoveries, however, defy explanation. Sudarsan Raghavan, Washington Post, 22 Apr. 2021 But like crab and oysters, artichokes rest in a sort of alien realm where their distinct flavor and form defy neat categorization. Los Angeles Times, 16 Apr. 2021 The contributors among those charged in the riot defy that. Rachel Axon, USA TODAY, 26 Mar. 2021

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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Learn More About defy

Time Traveler for defy

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for defy

Last Updated

15 Jun 2021

Cite this Entry

“Defy.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/defy. Accessed 17 Jun. 2021.

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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.

More from Merriam-Webster on defy

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for defy

Nglish: Translation of defy for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of defy for Arabic Speakers

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