[verb dih-fahy; noun dih-fahy, dee-fahy]

verb (used with object), de·fied, de·fy·ing.

to challenge the power of; resist boldly or openly: to defy parental authority.
to offer effective resistance to: a fort that defies attack.
to challenge (a person) to do something deemed impossible: They defied him to dive off the bridge.
Archaic. to challenge to a combat or contest.

noun, plural de·fies.

a challenge; a defiance.

Origin of defy

1250–1300; Middle English defien < Old French desfier, equivalent to des- dis-1 + fier to trust < Vulgar Latin *fīdāre, variant of Latin fīdere
Related formsde·fi·a·ble, adjectivede·fy·ing·ly, adverbpre·de·fy, verb (used with object), pre·de·fied, pre·de·fy··de·fy, verb (used with object), re·de·fied, re·de·fy·ing.un·de·fi·a·ble, adjectiveun·de·fi·a·bly, adverbun·de·fied, adjective

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

Examples from the Web for defied

Contemporary Examples of defied

Historical Examples of defied

  • He had been defied, trapped, made a victim of the gang who had killed his most valued informer.

    Within the Law

    Marvin Dana

  • How it came, how it was passed from hearth to hearth, defied our penetration.

    In the Valley

    Harold Frederic

  • To apply for protection, where authority is defied, is bold.

    Clarissa, Volume 2 (of 9)

    Samuel Richardson

  • She defied all efforts of the master to make her become friends with White Fang.

    White Fang

    Jack London

  • Public opinion was defied, and the old methods were continued.

    The Railroad Question

    William Larrabee

British Dictionary definitions for defied


verb -fies, -fying or -fied (tr)

to resist (a powerful person, authority, etc) openly and boldly
to elude, esp in a baffling wayhis actions defy explanation
formal to challenge or provoke (someone to do something judged to be impossible); dareI defy you to climb that cliff
archaic to invite to do battle or combat
Derived Formsdefier, noun

Word Origin for defy

C14: from Old French desfier, from des- de- + fier to trust, from Latin fīdere
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 defied



c.1300, "to renounce one's allegiance;" mid-14c., "to challenge, defy," from Old French defier, desfier "to challenge, defy, provoke; renounce (a belief), repudiate (a vow, etc.)," from Vulgar Latin *disfidare "renounce one's faith," from Latin dis- "away" (see dis-) + fidus "faithful" (see faith).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper