[verb dih-fahy; noun dih-fahy, dee-fahy]
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verb (used with object), de·fied, de·fy·ing.
  1. to challenge the power of; resist boldly or openly: to defy parental authority.
  2. to offer effective resistance to: a fort that defies attack.
  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.
noun, plural de·fies.
  1. 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

See more synonyms for on Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

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British Dictionary definitions for defy


verb -fies, -fying or -fied (tr)
  1. to resist (a powerful person, authority, etc) openly and boldly
  2. to elude, esp in a baffling wayhis actions defy explanation
  3. formal to challenge or provoke (someone to do something judged to be impossible); dareI defy you to climb that cliff
  4. 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 defy

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