- 1defy somebody/something to refuse to obey or show respect for somebody in authority, a law, a rule, etc. I wouldn't have dared to defy my teachers. Hundreds of people today defied the ban on political gatherings.
- 2defy belief, explanation, description, etc. to be impossible or almost impossible to believe, explain, describe, etc. a political move that defies explanation The beauty of the scene defies description.
- 3defy something to successfully resist something to a very unusual degree The baby boy defied all the odds and survived (= stayed alive when it seemed certain that he would die). Word Familydefy verbdefiance noundefiant adjective Word Origin Middle English (in the senses ‘renounce an allegiance’ and ‘challenge to combat’): from Old French desfier, based on Latin dis- (expressing reversal) + fidus
BrE BrE//dɪˈfaɪ//; NAmE NAmE//dɪˈfaɪ//Verb Forms present simple I / you / we / they defy
BrE BrE//dɪˈfaɪ//; NAmE NAmE//dɪˈfaɪ//he / she / it defies
BrE BrE//dɪˈfaɪz//; NAmE NAmE//dɪˈfaɪz//past simple defied
BrE BrE//dɪˈfaɪd//; NAmE NAmE//dɪˈfaɪd//past participle defied
BrE BrE//dɪˈfaɪd//; NAmE NAmE//dɪˈfaɪd//-ing form defying
BrE BrE//dɪˈfaɪɪŋ//; NAmE NAmE//dɪˈfaɪɪŋ//