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[def-uh-ren-shuh l] /ˌdɛf əˈrɛn ʃəl/
showing deference; deferent; respectful.
Origin of deferential
1815-25; after deference, by analogy with such pairs as residence: residential
Related forms
deferentially, adverb
nondeferential, adjective
nondeferentially, adverb
overdeferential, adjective
overdeferentially, adverb
undeferential, adjective
undeferentially, adverb
courteous, regardful, dutiful, obedient, reverential. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for deferential
  • As a judge, he was too deferential to the government.
  • We as a country and as a culture are far too deferential to the police.
  • Both the inmate's lawyer and the administration are arguing that when it comes to race, the deferential stance should not apply.
  • If you're overly deferential or timid, faculty tend to see this as a signal that you're not a peer.
  • For the royal weddings of the past, the celebratory crockery and linen in shops was starchy and deferential.
  • Prone to deferential giggling, she seems content to stay at home and organize her spices.
  • Some also worry that she will be too deferential to the executive on matters of civil liberties.
  • Some of the justices' comments this week sounded as though they were feeling far too deferential to the military.
  • In general, though, boards are undoubtedly becoming less deferential.
  • Around the edge of it, with a certain deferential caution, comes a hat.
British Dictionary definitions for deferential


marked by or showing deference or respect; respectful
Derived Forms
deferentially, adverb
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 deferential

1822, from deferent + -ial; as a word in anatomy, from 1877. Related: Deferentially.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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deferential in Medicine

deferential def·er·en·tial (děf'ə-rěn'shəl)
Of or relating to the vas deferens.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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