de·​fi·​ance di-ˈfī-ən(t)s How to pronounce defiance (audio)
: the act or an instance of defying : challenge
jailed for defiance of a court order
: disposition to resist : willingness to contend or fight
dealing with a child's defiance
in defiance of
: contrary to : despite
seemingly in defiance of the laws of physics
He returned to the pulpit May 22 in defiance of an order by church leaders banning him from television preaching for one year.Daniel E. Kubiske

Example Sentences

any defiance of the authoritarian regime would have dire consequences the troubled youth seems to have an ingrained defiance to authority of any sort
Recent Examples on the Web While these acts of defiance are rarer in more conservative areas, they are increasingly being seen in towns and cities. Farnaz Fassihi, New York Times, 25 Feb. 2023 Although these acts of defiance are rarer in more conservative areas, they are increasingly being seen in towns and cities. Farnaz Fassihi,, 25 Feb. 2023 And yet there are signs of disaffection: protests, individual acts of defiance reported on Telegram and other social media. David Remnick, The New Yorker, 19 Feb. 2023 When a rock festival held in Tallinn in the summer of 1988 was shut down by Soviet authorities, thousands of Estonians took to the streets, waving Estonian flags and singing patriotic songs in a bold show of defiance of Soviet rule. Christopher Vourlias, Variety, 16 Feb. 2023 The camera roams from the top of their heads to their toes, wanders across their chests and backsides, soaking up the details of defiance. Lovia Gyarkye, The Hollywood Reporter, 16 Feb. 2023 Self-care becomes a rite of defiance in the face of oppression and injustice. Stephan Rabimov, Forbes, 13 Feb. 2023 Their acts of defiance express a universal will to freedom, a desire for religious and civil liberty, for self-government and rule of law, that remains alive in even the most barren and hostile environments. Matthew Continetti, National Review, 4 Feb. 2023 The brave act of defiance, which took place on Dec. 1, 1955, in Montgomery, Alabama, led to a year-long bus boycott by Montgomery's Black residents. Diane J. Cho, Peoplemag, 1 Feb. 2023 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'defiance.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

Word History


Middle English diffiaunce, defyaunce, borrowed from Anglo-French defiance, difiaunce, from defier, desfier "to renounce, challenge, defy entry 1" + -ance, -aunce -ance

First Known Use

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of defiance was in the 15th century

Dictionary Entries Near defiance

Cite this Entry

“Defiance.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 24 Mar. 2023.

Kids Definition


de·​fi·​ance di-ˈfī-ən(t)s How to pronounce defiance (audio)
: the act or an instance of defying : challenge
: a tendency to resist : contempt of opposition

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