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[v. dih-fahy; n. dih-fahy, dee-fahy] /v. dɪˈfaɪ; n. dɪˈfaɪ, ˈdi faɪ/
verb (used with object), defied, defying.
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 defies.
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 forms
defiable, adjective
defyingly, adverb
predefy, verb (used with object), predefied, predefying.
redefy, verb (used with object), redefied, redefying.
undefiable, adjective
undefiably, adverb
undefied, adjective
1. dare, brave, flout, scorn. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for defying
  • The great questions of philosophy have a way of defying easy resolution.
  • Flying frogs, leaping lizards, airborne squirrels-a host of creatures employ gravity-defying means of travel.
  • So they put off the depth-defying effects until postproduction.
  • Propping up power is, generally, a less dodgy proposition than defying it.
  • She killed the beasts in a series of gravity-defying martial-arts moves, then ran away.
  • He has also declared those demonstrators who have died defying the government to be martyrs.
  • He has also declared martyrs those demonstrators who died defying the government.
  • Indeed, the feisty executive built a lucrative career defying convention and spotting commercial opportunities that others missed.
  • There were bombastic speeches by party members defying their leaders' orders on which way to vote.
  • Gelato is a major growth business worldwide, a cheap luxury defying the recession as people turn to smaller pleasures.
British Dictionary definitions for defying


verb (transitive) -fies, -fying, -fied
to resist (a powerful person, authority, etc) openly and boldly
to elude, esp in a baffling way: his actions defy explanation
(formal) to challenge or provoke (someone to do something judged to be impossible); dare: I defy you to climb that cliff
(archaic) to invite to do battle or combat
Derived Forms
defier, noun
Word Origin
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
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Word Origin and History for defying



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
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