: respect and esteem due a superior or an elder; also : affected or ingratiating regard for another's wishes
Did You Know?
The words deference and defer both derive from the Latin deferre, which means "to bring down" or "to carry away." At the same time you might also hear that defer traces to the Latin differre, which means "to postpone" or "to differ." Which root is right? Both. That's because English has two verbs, or homographs, spelled defer. One means "to submit or delegate to another" (as in "I defer to your greater expertise"). That's the one that is closely related to deference and that comes from deferre. The other means "to put off or delay" (as in "we decided to defer the decision until next month"); that second defer derives from differre.
Showing deference to his visiting uncle, Charles insisted on giving up his usual seat at the head of the dinner table so that the older gentleman could take his place.
"At 84, he's … the business's greatest living screenwriter and … a man whom stars treat with a deference he doesn't always reciprocate." — Boris Kachka, Vulture, 4 Nov. 2015
Test Your Vocabulary with M-W Quizzes
Word Family Quiz
Unscramble the letters to create an adjective that is derived from Latin differre and means "tardy": LRYIDATO.VIEW THE ANSWER
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