Sure you wear ripped jeans to school every day, but you don't wear them to your grandmother's house out of deference to her. When you show deference to someone, you make a gesture of respect.

The noun deference goes with the verb defer, which means "to yield to someone's opinions or wishes out of respect for that person." If you and your dad disagree about the best route to the grocery store, you might defer to him, and take his route. You're taking his route out of deference to his opinion and greater experience.

Definitions of deference
  1. noun
    courteous regard for people's feelings
    “in deference to your wishes”
    synonyms: respect, respectfulness
    see moresee less
    type of:
    courtesy, good manners
    a courteous manner
  2. noun
    a courteous expression (by word or deed) of esteem or regard
    “his deference to her wishes was very flattering”
    synonyms: respect
    see moresee less
    court, homage
    respectful deference
    last respects
    the act of expressing respect for someone who has died
    proper respect
    type of:
    civility, politeness
    the act of showing regard for others
  3. noun
    a disposition or tendency to yield to the will of others
    synonyms: complaisance, compliance, compliancy, obligingness
    see moresee less
    type of:
    agreeability, agreeableness
    a temperamental disposition to be agreeable
Word Family

Test prep from the experts

Boost your test score with programs developed by’s experts.

  • Proven methods: Learn faster, remember longer with our scientific approach.
  • Personalized plan: We customize your experience to maximize your learning.
  • Strategic studying: Focus on the words that are most crucial for success.


  • Number of words: 500+
  • Duration: 8 weeks or less
  • Time: 1 hour / week


  • Number of words: 500+
  • Duration: 10 weeks or less
  • Time: 1 hour / week


  • Number of words: 700+
  • Duration: 10 weeks
  • Time: 1 hour / week