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 ©2020 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices
Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:
The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.