Definition of defy in English:

defy

Line breaks: defy
Pronunciation: /dɪˈfʌɪ
 
/

verb (defies, defying, defied)

1 [with object] Openly 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.
Synonyms
disobey, refuse to obey, go against, rebel against, flout, fly in the face of, thumb one's nose at, disregard, ignore, set one's face against, kick against; break, violate, contravene, breach, infringe
informal cock a snook at
archaic set at naught
resist, withstand, take a stand against, hold out against, stand up to, confront, face, meet head-on, take on, square up to, beard, brave, outface
1.1Be of such a kind or nature that (a specified attitude or action) is almost impossible: his actions defy belief the outfit defied adequate description
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.
Synonyms
elude, escape, defeat; foil, frustrate, thwart, baffle
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.
Synonyms
2.1 archaic Challenge (someone) to fight: 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.

Origin

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

Derivatives

defier

noun
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.

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