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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. 2016.
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Examples from the Web for deferential
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • And Chichikov executed one of his sidelong, deferential bows.

    Dead Souls Nikolai Vasilievich Gogol
  • He pays you the deferential compliment of asking what books you are reading.

  • A deferential waiter informed the American that it had been taken with every possible care to his suite.

    The Man Upstairs P. G. Wodehouse
  • He grasped Scorrier's hand—the gesture was deferential, yet distinguished.

  • The manservant, with his plain black clothes and black tie, had entered the room with a deferential little gesture.

    Anna the Adventuress E. Phillips Oppenheim
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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