from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • adj. Marked by or exhibiting deference.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • adj. respectful and considerate; showing deference
  • adj. of, or relating to the vas deferens

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • adj. Expressing deference; accustomed to defer.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • Expressing or characterized by deference; respectful in manner.
  • In anatomy, conveying away or carrying off; specifically, pertaining to the vas deferens, or deferent duct of the testes.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • adj. showing deference


Sorry, no etymologies found.


  • The word deferential seems like a negative for me, as though she was telling me I was passive, too quiet or not as strong as other supervisors.

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  • She composed her features into what she hoped was an expression of deferential alertness.

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  • He reached forward and, head bowed in deferential respect, he made so as to lift the holy book, and it yielded to his purity and righteousness, and opened for him.

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  • His strongly gentle features held an expression of deferential respect without being ingratiating.

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  • In a brief couple of paragraphs she talks about the novel’s opening scene and points to Fitzgerald’s unusual use of the word deferential and notes how the phrase “rotted like water lilies among the massed pines” evokes what “will come to seem increasingly applicable to much of what happens in a novel that is partly about the dissolution and decay of romance and beauty.”

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  • He nodded in a manner that could only be described as deferential, and walked on to meet them.

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  • Honour may be defined as the deferential recognition by word or sign of another's worth or station.

    The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume 7: Gregory XII-Infallability

  • Mr. Haggerty has been described as deferential to his political mentors.

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  • This, on the heels of his deep bow to Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah (the Queen of England merited what can at best be described as a deferential nod).

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  • Choice of Fentress as Terminal 1 architect sparks rare RDU skirmish Raleigh-Durham Airport Authority has long been known as a deferential body - some would even say a rubber stamp - for RDU staff recommendations.

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  • showing respect

    If you ever have the chance to meet the president, stand up straight and be deferential.

    October 15, 2016

  • "His face assumes a deferential expression..." Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen

    October 17, 2010