Share this entry
deference Line breaks: def|er¦ence
Pronunciation: /ˈdɛf(ə)r(ə)ns/

Definition of deference in English:


[mass noun]
Polite submission and respect: he addressed her with the deference due to age
More example sentences
  • 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.
respect, respectfulness, regard, esteem;
consideration, attentiveness, attention, thoughtfulness;
submissiveness, submission, obedience, yielding, surrender, accession, capitulation, acquiescence, complaisance, obeisance


in deference to
Out of respect for; in consideration of: in deference to her wishes we spent two weeks on the coast
More example sentences
  • 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.


Mid 17th century: from French déférence, from déférer 'refer' (see defer2).

Words that rhyme with deference

preference, reference
Definition of deference in:
Share this entry

What do you find interesting about this word or phrase?

Comments that don't adhere to our Community Guidelines may be moderated or removed.

Subscribe to remove adverts and access premium resources