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 His opinion piece drew criticism on social media from Trump’s supporters and Gallagher’s defenders, who blamed the former Navy secretary for putting his own spin on his efforts to defy the wishes of the commander in chief. BostonGlobe.com, "WASHINGTON — Ousted Navy Secretary Richard Spencer sharply criticized President Trump’s ‘‘shocking and unprecedented intervention’’ in the case of a Navy SEAL accused of war crimes, saying Trump’s efforts underscored that the president ‘‘has very little understanding’’ of the military.," 29 Nov. 2019 Democrats are also expected to include an article on obstruction of Congress that outlines Trump’s instructions to officials in his administration to defy subpoenas for documents or testimony. Lisa Mascaro, chicagotribune.com, "Trump impeachment: House Judiciary Committee sets opening hearing; transcripts show budget officials’ concerns over hold on Ukraine aid," 27 Nov. 2019 Democrats also are expected to include an article on obstruction of Congress that outlines Trump’s instructions to officials in his administration to defy subpoenas for documents and testimony. Darlene Superville, Twin Cities, "Trump knew of whistleblower before releasing Ukraine aid," 27 Nov. 2019 Democrats are also expected to include an article on obstruction of Congress that outlines Trump’s instructions to officials in his administration to defy subpoenas for documents or testimony. Arkansas Online, "House Judiciary Committee sets Dec. 4 impeachment hearing," 26 Nov. 2019 Omeronge’s attorney contends his client did not intend to defy the court’s ruling. USA TODAY, "Bei Bei goes bye-bye, human compost company, Confederate statue whisked away: News from around our 50 states," 21 Nov. 2019 Sandy was the first official from the Office of Management and Budget to defy Trump’s instructions not to testify. Author: Lisa Mascaro, Michael Balsamo, Anchorage Daily News, "White House budget official with knowledge of delay in military aid to Ukraine testifies," 16 Nov. 2019 Bloomberg’s pitch to defy conventional wisdom didn’t sit well with many in the early-voting states. Fox News, "Bloomberg's barriers: China comments, lackluster polling, dubious strategy could hamper bid," 12 Nov. 2019 But the young continued to defy the threat of violence, organizing around places such as al-Tahrir bridge, with young men and women treating the wounded and giving out water, food, hard hats and gas masks to demonstrators facing tear gas. Mohammed Tawfeeq, CNN, "Young Iraqis and Lebanese aren't just demanding better societies. They're creating them at protest sites," 6 Nov. 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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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

2 Dec 2019

Cite this Entry

“Defy.” The Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/defying. Accessed 14 December 2019.

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More Definitions for defy

defy

verb
How to pronounce defy (audio)

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

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for defy

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with 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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