1. Bold resistance against an opposing force or authority: engaged in acts of defiance against the regime.
2. Contemptuous disrespect for the authority of another: detected a tone of defiance in the letter.
3. Archaic A challenge, as to combat or a duel: "Violent was Mr. Weller's indignation as he was borne along; numerous were the allusions to the personal appearance and demeanour of Mr. Grummer and his companion; and valorous were the defiances to any six of the gentlemen present, in which he vented his dissatisfaction" (Charles Dickens).
in defiance of
In spite of; contrary to: went on strike in defiance of union policy.
[Middle English defiaunce, from Old French desfiance, from desfier, to defy; see DEFY.]
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.