Know why cattywampus was trending last week?


[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.
Cite This Source
Examples from the web for defy
  • From electric eels to seahorses, see the fish who defy usual categorization.
  • Researchers defy the laws of physics by making a laser beam bend .
  • Negrete's big dreams defy her modest means.
  • If anyone has a better explanation, come defy this one.
  • They'll likely attract more, even though robot wars defy comparison with other sporting or entertainment events.
  • Researchers defy the laws of physics by making a laser beam bend.
  • Why would they defy gravity and spike upwards? I found a spike on a cube in my ice-cube tray.
  • Swarms of self-charging particles defy gravity -- and expectations.
  • Even so, it continues to defy explanation.
  • The surrounding honeycomb of dusty alleyways—or derb—seem to defy navigation.
British Dictionary definitions for defy


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
Cite This Source
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
Cite This Source
Slang definitions & phrases for defy



Defiance; notice of act of defiance •Use has not been continuous since the first attestation in 1580: on a signboard, a defi to the On Leongs

[late 1880s+; apparently fr French de´fi]

The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D.
Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers.
Cite This Source

Word of the Day

Difficulty index for defy

Many English speakers likely know this word

Word Value for defy

Scrabble Words With Friends

Quotes with defy

Nearby words for defy