tr.v. de·fied, de·fy·ing, de·fies
a. To oppose or resist with boldness and assurance: defied the blockade by sailing straight through it.
b. To refuse to submit to or cooperate with: defied the court order by leaving the country.
2. To be beyond the application or scope of; be contrary or resistant to: an act that defies explanation; a problem that defies any conventional approach.
3. To challenge or dare (someone) to do something: She defied her accusers to prove their charges.
[Middle English defien, from Old French desfier, from Vulgar Latin *disfīdāre : Latin dis-, dis- + Latin fīdus, faithful; see bheidh- in the Appendix of Indo-European roots.]
Synonyms: defy, brave, dare, face
These verbs mean to confront boldly and courageously: a writer who defied the wrath of the authorities; a composer braving all criticism; explorers who dared the unknown; sailors who faced the dangers of the storm squarely.
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2017 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
The American Heritage Dictionary Blog
Check out our blog, updated regularly, for new words and revised definitions, interesting images from the 5th edition, discussions of usage, and more.
American Heritage Dictionary Products
The American Heritage Dictionary, 5th Edition
The American Heritage Dictionary of Idioms
The American Heritage Roget's Thesaurus
Curious George's Dictionary
The American Heritage Children's Dictionary
The American Heritage Dictionary of Indo-European Roots
The American Heritage Student Grammar Dictionary
The American Heritage Desk Dictionary + Thesaurus
The American Heritage Science Dictionary
The American Heritage Dictionary of Business Terms
The American Heritage Student Dictionary
The American Heritage Essential Student Thesaurus