Word of the Day : January 10, 2012

defer

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verb dih-FER

Definition

1 : put off, delay

2 : to postpone induction of (a person) into military service

Did You Know?

There are two words spelled "defer" in English. The other "defer," which means "to submit to another's wishes or opinion" (as in "I defer to your superior expertise"), is derived from the Latin verb "deferre." The "defer" we're featuring today is derived from Latin "differre," which itself has several meanings including "to postpone" and "to differ." Not surprisingly, "differre" is also the source of our word "differ," meaning "to be different." In fact, at one time there were two "differ" homographs in English; over four hundred years ago, "differ" could also mean "to put off" (and could be pronounced with the stress on the last syllable, in the same way as "defer").


Examples

The minister advised the young man and woman that it would be wise for them to defer getting married until they had finished school.

"In 1962, at age 20, he was commissioned at Fort Bragg in North Carolina. After three years he was deferred to go to law school at the University of South Carolina." -- From an article by Corey Hutchins in the Free Times (South Carolina), November 16, 2011



Word Family Quiz

What descendant of "differre" can mean "having or showing no special liking for or dislike of something" or "not interested or concerned"? The answer is ...


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