View synonyms for defy


[ dih-fahy, dee- ]

verb (used with object)

, de·fied, de·fy·ing.
  1. to challenge the power of; resist boldly or openly:

    Love drives the characters to ignore their family feud and defy parental authority.

    The artist defies conventional categories by blending very different styles in her work.

    Synonyms: scorn, flout, brave, dare

  2. to offer effective resistance to; make virtually impossible:

    Their strategic position is helped by having a fort that defies attack.

    The facts were so complex that they defied simple explanation.

  3. to challenge (a person) to do something deemed impossible:

    They defied him to dive off the bridge.

  4. Archaic. to challenge to a combat or contest.


, plural de·fies.
  1. a challenge; a defiance.


/ dɪˈfaɪ /


  1. to resist (a powerful person, authority, etc) openly and boldly
  2. to elude, esp in a baffling way

    his actions defy explanation

  3. formal.
    to challenge or provoke (someone to do something judged to be impossible); dare

    I defy you to climb that cliff

  4. archaic.
    to invite to do battle or combat

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Derived Forms

  • deˈfier, noun

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Other Words From

  • de·fi·a·ble adjective
  • de·fy·ing·ly adverb
  • pre·de·fy verb (used with object) predefied predefying
  • re·de·fy verb (used with object) redefied redefying
  • un·de·fi·a·ble adjective
  • un·de·fi·a·bly adverb

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Word History and Origins

Origin of defy1

First recorded in 1250–1300; from Middle English defien, Old French desfier, from des- dis- 1 + fier “to trust” (from Vulgar Latin fīdāre (unrecorded), from Latin fīdere; fidelity ( def ) )

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Word History and Origins

Origin of defy1

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

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Example Sentences

Again we have seen the stirring scenes of young and old defy riot police and arbitrary detention in an authoritarian state.

From Time

Ayman al-Zawahiri, the leader of al Qaeda, specifically called on French Muslims to defy the ban.

The Simpsons really does defy all expectations in terms of the normal lifespan.

The political implications are clear—but the battle lines about to form are likely to defy party lines.

The man who once seemed to defy death entirely has held onto his reputation and accolades long after succumbing to his mortality.

Saying so is to make a statement so obvious as to defy the need for citation.

Arches more graceful in form, or better fitted to defy the assaults of time, I have never seen.

If they are still Moderns and alive, I defy you to bury them if you are discussing living questions in a full and honest way.

He could not bear to open his dreadful situation to his Uncle David, nor to kill himself, nor to defy the vengeance of Longcluse.

It was probably this opposition that made young Cargill decide that it would be really worth while to defy the legend.

"Thirty," said the first bidder in a tone which seemed to defy further competition.