Definition of deference in English:


See synonyms for deference

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  • Humble submission and respect.

    ‘he addressed her with the deference due to age’
    • ‘Elizabeth II came to the throne when Britain still enjoyed a society where deference joined with self respect.’
    • ‘The prisoners were all perfectly submissive and paid every deference to the wishes of those in whose custody they were placed.’
    • ‘Even when this process is taking place, there is still a battle against old ideas and the habits of deference and submission.’
    • ‘But our relationship should be one of mature partnership not one of undue deference.’
    • ‘In a previous era he'd have been a gardener on a large estate, and still retains all of his deference to people he considers his betters.’
    • ‘The judgment made by the defendant as the primary decision maker should be accorded due deference by the court.’
    • ‘They must give due deference to the decisions of the inspectors and the Secretary of State.’
    • ‘But a loss of deference is very different from a loss of respect for other people.’
    • ‘In his view, the article requires respect for family life not automatic deference to family decisions.’
    • ‘Already their experiment shows signs of failure, and that in a society notable for its deference to authority and tradition.’
    • ‘It was those very values of deference, place and the proper order of things which brought this country to the brink of collapse after the war.’
    • ‘An embarrassing four-year period of media deference to the president and his policies has ended.’
    • ‘In coming to terms with this situation, teachers need to accept the loss of some traditional deference.’
    • ‘For a court to do otherwise is for a court to fail to show proper deference to a legislative authority.’
    • ‘He confirms this shyly, perhaps out of deference to his employer, who trained with White and later became his great rival.’
    • ‘What has almost disappeared is deference towards the lower classes.’
    • ‘Traditional class boundaries have been eroded and deference has all but disappeared from British society.’
    • ‘It was typical of a Queen who, in her own words, thoroughly disliked pomposity and ritual deference.’
    • ‘Arrogance is not an attractive trait, but surely it beats passive deference?’
    • ‘The wasn't much sign of deference either, the shouted questions were pretty direct.’
    respect, respectfulness, regard, esteem
    View synonyms



/ˈdef(ə)rəns/ /ˈdɛf(ə)rəns/


    in deference to
    • Out of respect for; in consideration of.

      ‘in deference to her wishes we spent two weeks on the coast’
      • ‘They either watch me march away or hurriedly dash to me with an immediate, apologetic and cursory check of my goods, in deference to my self-conferred diplomatic status.’
      • ‘The Good Friday procession, which symbolises Christ's path to his crucifixion, was modified in deference to the Pope's age and health.’
      • ‘The team was named Celtic, in deference to Brother Walfrid's wishes, who felt that this name would encompass both its Irish and Scottish roots.’
      • ‘I have said ‘responsibility’ because, in deference to those who struggled and fought for this right, it is our responsibility to use it.’
      • ‘He goes along with the fooling of Malvolio in deference to his betters, but he gives us the distinct impression that it leaves a nasty taste in his mouth.’
      • ‘The identity of the surrogate mother, the woman who had carried the baby to term for the couple, was not disclosed in deference to her wish.’
      • ‘But in deference to my first correspondent I will name another case, and there may be others.’
      • ‘He kissed Greek soil, which was held up in a basket in deference to his fragile physical state.’
      • ‘The respected Maori member Mita Ririnui graciously gave up his speaking slot in deference to his colleague Tariana Turia, who had previously been denied a slot.’
      • ‘We would be doing a public disservice if, in deference to ancient law, we were to invalidate a simple, sensible, and practical formula for ascertaining a fair and reasonable price.’


Mid 17th century from French déférence, from déférer ‘refer’ (see defer).