showing deference; deferent; respectful.

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

Synonyms for deferential Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for deferential

Contemporary Examples of deferential

Historical Examples of deferential

  • 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



marked by or showing deference or respect; respectful
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.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Medicine definitions for deferential




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.