Definitions

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

  • transitive v. To oppose or resist with boldness and assurance: defied the blockade by sailing straight through it.
  • transitive v. To refuse to submit to or cooperate with: defied the court order by leaving the country.
  • transitive v. To be unaffected by; resist or withstand: "So the plague defied all medicines” ( Daniel Defoe).
  • transitive v. To challenge or dare (someone) to do something: She defied her accusers to prove their charges.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A challenge.
  • v. To renounce or dissolve all bonds of affiance, faith, or obligation with; to reject, refuse, or renounce.
  • v. this sense?) To provoke to combat or strife; to call out to combat; to challenge; to dare; to brave; to set at defiance; to treat with contempt.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • transitive v. To renounce or dissolve all bonds of affiance, faith, or obligation with; to reject, refuse, or renounce.
  • transitive v. To provoke to combat or strife; to call out to combat; to challenge; to dare; to brave; to set at defiance; to treat with contempt
  • n. A challenge.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • To renounce; reject; refuse; repudiate; cast off.
  • To revolt at; reject from dislike; disapprove.
  • To challenge to contest or trial with arms; dare to meet in combat.
  • To challenge to an action or procedure of any kind; dare to do something (generally with an implication of belief that it cannot be done, or that the action will fail of its purpose).
  • To dare; brave; manifest a contempt of or indifference to (opposition, attack, or hostile force); set at naught; resist successfully: as, to defy the arguments of an opponent; to defy the power of a magistrate.
  • To reject; eject; void: with out.
  • To digest.
  • To digest; be digested.
  • n. A challenge; a defiance.

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

  • v. challenge
  • v. resist or confront with resistance
  • v. elude, especially in a baffling way

Etymologies

Middle English defien, from Old French desfier, from Vulgar Latin *disfīdāre : Latin dis-, dis- + Latin fīdus, faithful; see bheidh- in Indo-European roots.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Old French desfier, from Vulgar Latin *disfidare ("renounce one's faith"), from Latin dis- ("away") + fidus ("faithful"). Meaning shifted 14c. from "be disloyal" to "challenge." (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • Regardless of party affiliation or politics, the attacks on Palin defy everything that this country is suppose to be about.

    I'm 'saddened' by 'vicious attacks' on Palin, McCain says

  • Monotremes defy the English word mammal, which implies breasts, or at least nipples.

    Monotremata

  • Kichwapi colleague Enrique Conejo said some terms defy easy Quechua translation: "The word inflation is a headache."

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  • Yet, parasites do not by definition defy vaccines.

    Parasite Rex

  • I dropped the Ann from my name to defy my mother, who had insisted I be called by the refined name of Carole Ann, not plain old Carole.

    Healed by Horses

  • Having a mint of phrases in his own brain, well might he speak with the contempt he does of those "fools who for a tricksy word defy the matter;" that is, slight or disregard it.

    Lippincott's Magazine of Popular Literature and Science, Vol. XVI., December, 1880.

  • Nonetheless, they can continue to do so-in other words, defy economic principles-only as long as market participants-in this case builders, local officials, and homeowners-cooperate.

    Forbes.com: News

  • These examples of contemporary expression defy and contrast with the common idea of art, which is usually portrayed as something so valuable that it needs to be protected and kept in a safe place, like high-security musems and elite galleries.

    Elites TV

  • Admittedly, "defy" and "retaliate" are better, but what does that mean concretely?

    Archive 2009-09-01

  • I don't know what it would mean for the netroots to 'defy' the DCCC, the term covers too diverse a collection of independent people and I haven't seen any party heads try to order it around.

    Opinion Roundup: Who Gets Credit, Rahm Or Netroots?

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