• synonyms


[def-uh-ren-shuh l]
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  1. showing deference; deferent; respectful.
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Origin of deferential

1815–25; after deference, by analogy with such pairs as residence: residential
Related formsdef·er·en·tial·ly, adverbnon·def·er·en·tial, adjectivenon·def·er·en·tial·ly, adverbo·ver·def·er·en·tial, adjectiveo·ver·def·er·en·tial·ly, adverbun·def·er·en·tial, adjectiveun·def·er·en·tial·ly, adverb


See more synonyms for deferential on Thesaurus.com
courteous, regardful, dutiful, obedient, reverential.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for deferential

Contemporary Examples

Historical Examples

  • She beamed at my appearance, and her every word was caressing and deferential.

  • 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


  1. marked by or showing deference or respect; respectful
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Derived Formsdeferentially, 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

Word Origin and History for deferential


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

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

deferential in Medicine


  1. Of or relating to the vas deferens.
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The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.