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[def-uh-ren-shuh l] /ˌdɛf əˈrɛn ʃəl/
showing deference; deferent; respectful.
Origin of deferential
1815-25; after deference, by analogy with such pairs as residence: residential
Related forms
deferentially, adverb
nondeferential, adjective
nondeferentially, adverb
overdeferential, adjective
overdeferentially, adverb
undeferential, adjective
undeferentially, adverb
courteous, regardful, dutiful, obedient, reverential. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for deferential
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • She beamed at my appearance, and her every word was caressing and deferential.

    The Bacillus of Beauty Harriet Stark
  • I saw it in every deferential gesture of his body, and every modulated tone of his voice.

    The Underdog F. Hopkinson Smith
  • The Chief Inspector stood it well, deferential but inscrutable.

    The Secret Agent Joseph Conrad
  • With a deferential flourish the waiter brought him the menu-card.

    The Black Bag Louis Joseph Vance
  • Like lightning Ferry's sword was out, but he only gave it a deferential sweep.

    The Cavalier George Washington Cable
British Dictionary definitions for deferential


marked by or showing deference or respect; respectful
Derived Forms
deferentially, adverb
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for deferential

1822, from deferent + -ial; as a word in anatomy, from 1877. Related: Deferentially.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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deferential in Medicine

deferential def·er·en·tial (děf'ə-rěn'shəl)
Of or relating to the vas deferens.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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