Definition of defy in English:


Line breaks: defy
Pronunciation: /dɪˈfʌɪ

verb (defies, defying, defied)

  • 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.
  • 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.



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.


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

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