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

Kim Kardashian has made her grand entrance to the 2019 Met Gala, wearing a skin-tight dress nude dress that may or may not defy the laws of physics. Erica Gonzales, Harper's BAZAAR, "Kim Kardashian Wins for Tightest Dress at the Met Gala," 7 May 2019 Paul Flato’s bold and whimsical American designs defied the hierarchy and disrupted tastes. Stellene Volandes, Town & Country, "T&C Exclusive: The New Owner of an Iconic American Jewel is Revealed," 15 Apr. 2019 This defies the basic logic of the separation of powers. Matthew Yglesias, Vox, "Trump’s bizarre post-election press conference, explained," 7 Nov. 2018 Where the average person would stop at 5-inch heel or 3-inch platform, Gaga prefers footwear that defies logic. Janelle Okwodu, Vogue, "Lady Gaga’s Highest, Wildest, and Fiercest Heels," 10 Sep. 2018 Birthday gift: Oceanside golfer Carol Dergan has defied the odds. Diane Bell, sandiegouniontribune.com, "Tom Cruise movie sequel takes off without San Diego's "Top Gun" twins.," 6 July 2018 As Americans have grown taller and wider, everything else in a plane has shifted in the opposite direction, the kind of contrarian thinking that defies logic. Ana Veciana-suarez, miamiherald, "Buckle up! Air travel has become turbulent in more ways than one," 18 June 2018 And many in the industry are betting on her to, yet again, defy expectations. Morgen Peck, Glamour, "Cryptocurrency Is Not Just a Boys' Club," 11 Dec. 2018 And yes, Top 40-pop styled musical numbers focus on familiar adolescent themes of defying the expectations of others or how life doesn't follow movie scripts in practice. Nathan Mattise, Ars Technica, "Anna and the Apocalypse: A zombie-Christmas-high school musical can’t be this good," 1 Dec. 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

20 May 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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