to put off (action, consideration, etc.) to a future time: The decision has been deferred by the board until next week.
to exempt temporarily from induction into military service.
to put off action; delay.
Defer and differ were originally the same word, but spellings with def- for etymologically correct dif-, which first appeared in the 15th century, have become standard in part because of the sense “to put off, delay” (absent in differ ), in part because of the accent being on the root (second) syllable, and in part through association with delay .
The meaning “to exempt temporarily from military service” first appeared in 1941.
- de·fer·rer, noun
Other definitions for defer (2 of 2)
to yield respectfully in judgment or opinion (usually followed by to): We all defer to him in these matters.
to submit for decision; refer: We defer questions of this kind to the president.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023
How to use defer in a sentence
Nixon gripes about how Kissinger defers to him in public, but in private conversations, “where it counts,” builds himself up.The Nixon Home Movies: Glimpses of Tragedy in ‘Our Nixon’ | Eleanor Clift | August 24, 2013 | THE DAILY BEAST
What do you think of a federal hands-off policy that defers to the states?
He defers to the law at all junctures, just as Emmett King used to when he read to his family from the Iowa code books.
Regarding the kiss, Morton defers to the tabloids and, of course, the shrinks.
Abraham, bearing the whole Aaronic hierarchy potentially within him, defers to Melchizedek as to his greater.Messages from the Epistle to the Hebrews | Handley C.G. Moule
In view of which agreement, he adds that he defers sending the ladies to the English camp.A Half Century of Conflict - Volume I | Francis Parkman
He defers in his letters to his brothers superior business sagacity—that is all.The Life of Ludwig van Beethoven, Volume III (of 3) | Alexander Wheelock Thayer
The ground on which he defers the execution of Montigny and De Cayeux beyond the date of their trials seems insufficient.Familiar Studies of Men and Books | Robert Louis Stevenson
Her mother is a person of very strong character; her husband is absorbed in business, and defers to her in everything.Indian Summer | William D. Howells
British Dictionary definitions for defer (1 of 2)
(tr) to delay or cause to be delayed until a future time; postpone
- deferrable or deferable, adjective
- deferrer, noun
British Dictionary definitions for defer (2 of 2)
(intr foll by to) to yield (to) or comply (with) the wishes or judgments of another: I defer to your superior knowledge
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