Definition of defy in English:


Syllabification: de·fy
Pronunciation: /dəˈfī

verb (defies, defying, defied)

[with object]
1Openly resist or refuse to obey: a woman who defies convention
More example sentences
  • She had openly defied the Government by refusing to sell her much needed medicine to the sick.
  • Pursuing a strategy of ‘massive resistance,’ many Southern officials openly defied the decision.
  • In a general way, the one who openly defies you, who refuses to cooperate with you is an open enemy.
1.1(Of a thing) make (an action or quality) almost impossible: his actions defy belief
More example sentences
  • The emerging malpractices and general chicanery of these cash-driven outfits defy belief.
  • He's so funny, and so purely charismatic here as to defy adequate description.
  • retreat weekend Occasionally one comes across an extraordinary place, which defies adequate description.
elude, escape, defeat;
frustrate, thwart, baffle
1.2 [with object and infinitive] Appear to be challenging (someone) to do or prove something: he glowered at her, defying her to mock him
More example sentences
  • There may be exceptions, but I defy anyone to prove me wrong on this point.
  • Police officers detained and arrested a woman after she violated the curfew and defied the officers' warnings to leave the downtown area last Thursday.
  • Every now and again a record comes along that defies you to ignore it, and here's one of them.
1.3 archaic Challenge to combat: go now, defy him to the combat
More example sentences
  • So the superhero who fights monsters also defies his guardian and falls in love.
  • On his way to Rome he slays the giant of St Michael's Mount; his ambassador Walwain defies the emperor and fights him bravely.


Middle English (in the senses 'renounce an allegiance' and 'challenge to combat'): from Old French desfier, based on Latin dis- (expressing reversal) + fidus 'faithful'.



More example sentences
  • No reconstruction contracts or trade benefits have accrued to these defiers of Old Europe and the President needs to show support for his staunchest ally this week.
  • The defiers, or better still the self-defiers, include Lucifer, Don Juan, Prometheus.
  • Their authority is fundamentally illegitimate to begin with, meaning defiance carries no moral ambiguity, even if the physical consequences for the defier are deadly.

Definition of defy in: