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courteous respect for another’s opinion, wishes, or judgment: treated with deference
Not to be confused with:
difference – disparity; unlikeness; distinction: made a difference
Abused, Confused, & Misused Words by Mary Embree Copyright © 2007, 2013 by Mary Embree


 (dĕf′ər-əns, dĕf′rəns)
Submission or courteous respect given to another, often in recognition of authority. See Synonyms at honor.
American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition. Copyright © 2016 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.


1. submission to or compliance with the will, wishes, etc, of another
2. courteous regard; respect
[C17: from French déférence; see defer2]
Collins English Dictionary – Complete and Unabridged, 12th Edition 2014 © HarperCollins Publishers 1991, 1994, 1998, 2000, 2003, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2011, 2014


(ˈdɛf ər əns)

1. respectful yielding to the opinion, will, etc., of another: in deference to her wishes.
2. respectful or courteous regard.
[1640–50; < French déférence < Middle French defer(er) to defer2]
Random House Kernerman Webster's College Dictionary, © 2010 K Dictionaries Ltd. Copyright 2005, 1997, 1991 by Random House, Inc. All rights reserved.



after you, my dear Alphonse This popular catch phrase is the first half of the complete expression “After you, my dear Alphonse—no, after you, my dear Gaston.” It first appeared in the Hearst (King Features) comic strip Happy Hooligan written by F. Opper. The strip ran throughout the 1920s and for part of the 1930s. The characters Alphonse and Gaston were two extremely debonair Frenchmen who were so polite that they would jeopardize themselves in times of danger by taking the time to courteously ask each other to go first. Today, when two people go to do the same thing at the same time, one might humorously say to the other, “After you, my dear Alphonse.”

cap in hand Submissively; with a deferential air or manner. The phrase alludes to the image of a rustic or servant who self-consciously and humbly takes off his cap and holds it, usually against his chest, while speaking to someone of higher social status.

give the wall To yield the safest place; to allow another to walk on the walled side of a street. This expression is derived from an old custom which compelled pedestrians to surrender the safer, inner path bordering a roadway to a person of higher social rank. Modern social etiquette still requires a man to walk on the streetside of a female when walking along a sidewalk. A related expression, take the wall, describes the adamant perambulator who assumes the safer path closer to the wall. The inevitable friction between “givers” and “takers” is discussed by James Boswell in his Journal of a Tour of the Hebrides (1773):

In the last age … there were two sets of people, those who gave the wall, and those who took it; the peaceable and the quarrelsome.… Now it is fixed that every man keeps to the right; or, if one is taking the wall, another yields it, and it is never a dispute.

strike sail See SUBMISSION.

Picturesque Expressions: A Thematic Dictionary, 1st Edition. © 1980 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
ThesaurusAntonymsRelated WordsSynonymsLegend:
Noun1.deference - a courteous expression (by word or deed) of esteem or regarddeference - a courteous expression (by word or deed) of esteem or regard; "his deference to her wishes was very flattering"; "be sure to give my respects to the dean"
civility, politeness - the act of showing regard for others
homage, court - respectful deference; "pay court to the emperor"
last respects - the act of expressing respect for someone who has died; "he paid his last respects by standing quietly at the graveside"
props - proper respect; "I have to give my props to the governor for the way he handled the problem"
2.deference - courteous regard for people's feelings; "in deference to your wishes"; "out of respect for his privacy"
good manners, courtesy - a courteous manner
3.deference - a disposition or tendency to yield to the will of others
agreeability, agreeableness - a temperamental disposition to be agreeable
Based on WordNet 3.0, Farlex clipart collection. © 2003-2012 Princeton University, Farlex Inc.


Collins Thesaurus of the English Language – Complete and Unabridged 2nd Edition. 2002 © HarperCollins Publishers 1995, 2002


1. The quality or state of willingly carrying out the wishes of others:
2. Great respect or high public esteem accorded as a right or as due:
The American Heritage® Roget's Thesaurus. Copyright © 2013, 2014 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
إذعان،نُزول عِنْد إرادةإعْتِبار، إحْتِرام، تَبْجيل
ohledpoddání sepodřízenostpodrobení seúcta
virîingvirîing, tillitssemi
poddanie sa
hürmethürmet etmesaygısaygı duyma


[ˈdefərəns] Ndeferencia f, respeto m
out of or in deference to sb/sb's agepor deferencia or respeto a algn/la edad de algn
Collins Spanish Dictionary - Complete and Unabridged 8th Edition 2005 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1971, 1988 © HarperCollins Publishers 1992, 1993, 1996, 1997, 2000, 2003, 2005


[ˈdɛfərəns] ndéférence f, égards mpl
out of deference to, in deference to → par déférence pour, par égards pour
Collins English/French Electronic Resource. © HarperCollins Publishers 2005


nAchtung f, → Respekt m; out of or in deference toaus Achtung (dat)or Respekt (dat)vor; with all due deference to youbei aller schuldigen Achtung or allem schuldigen Respekt Ihnen gegenüber
Collins German Dictionary – Complete and Unabridged 7th Edition 2005. © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1980 © HarperCollins Publishers 1991, 1997, 1999, 2004, 2005, 2007


[ˈdɛfrns] ndeferenza, riguardo
out of or in deference to → per riguardo a
Collins Italian Dictionary 1st Edition © HarperCollins Publishers 1995


(diˈfə) past tense, past participle deˈferred verb
(with to) to act according to the wishes or opinions of another or the orders of authority. I defer to your greater knowledge of the matter.
deference (ˈdefərəns) noun
1. willingness to consider the wishes etc of others. He always treats his mother with deference.
2. the act of deferring.
in deference to
showing respct for. I let him speak first, in deference to his authority.
deˈferment, deˈferral noun
1. delaying; postponement.
2. officially sanctioned postponement of compulsory military service. draft deferment for college students.
Kernerman English Multilingual Dictionary © 2006-2013 K Dictionaries Ltd.
References in classic literature ?
Toward him Boris behaved with a particularly dignified and sad deference. This shade of deference also disturbed Pierre.
Pleased with this great show of deference, the Friend went ahead, and, leaving the hole first, was caught by the Cat, who immediately trotted away with him.
For by assigning to the Women the same two colours as were assigned to the Priests, the Revolutionists thereby ensured that, in certain positions, every Woman would appear like a Priest, and be treated with corresponding respect and deference -- a prospect that could not fail to attract the Female Sex in a mass.
I am tired of submitting my will to the caprices of others; of resigning my own judgment in deference to those to whom I owe no duty, and for whom I feel no respect.
Here the servant paused, and opening the door said with polite deference:
The doctor nodded civilly, half thinking that the stranger's uncommon greeting was perhaps in deference to the historic surroundings.
"There is not," pursued the nephew, in his former tone, "a face I can look at, in all this country round about us, which looks at me with any deference on it but the dark deference of fear and slavery."
For example, I myself should have hesitated, at such a season of rejoicing, to seem proud, even though excessive deference and civility at such a moment might have been construed as a lapse both of moral courage and of mental vigour.
I have no objection to any amount of blue sky in its proper place (it can be found at the 4000 level for practically twelve months out of the year), but I submit, with all deference to the educational needs of Transylvania, that "skylarking" in the centre of a main-travelled road where, at the best of times, electricity literally drips off one's stanchions and screw blades, is unnecessary.
In the code of military etiquette silence and fixity are forms of deference.
Curiously enough, the other man, too had changed as though in sympathetic deference to his superior officer.
And, as he had been accustomed, all his life, as with Mister Haggin, Skipper, and even with Bashti and the chief devil devil doctor of Somo, he attached himself to the high gods themselves, and from the gods under them received deference accordingly.