The Meaning of Defiance: What It Is and How To Use It

Do you know the definition of defiance? This article will provide you with all of the information you need on the word defiance, including its definition, usage, word origin, and more!

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What does the word defiance mean?

According to the American Heritage Dictionary of the English language as well as other English dictionaries like Collins English Dictionary, the word defiance is a noun that refers to contemptuous disrespect, contemptuous behavior, an opposing force, bold resistance, an open disregard, challenging attitude, contempt of opposition or a state of opposition. The word defiance is three syllables – de-fi-ance, and the pronunciation of defiance is dɪˈfaɪəns. 

One can have defiance towards many things, including a defiance of union policy, defiance of the rainstorm, open disregard for the securities regulators, defiance of the state rules, defiance of the court order, act of defiance, the defiance of danger, defiances of deadlines, a tone of defiance and more.

There are many different languages that contain words meaning defiance. You may notice that some of these words look or sound similar to the word defiance. These are called cognates. Cognates are words that look and sound similar between languages and retain the same meaning. These are often formed when two words have the same root or language of origin. This list of translations of defiance is provided by Word Sense

  •  Japanese: 反抗‎ (はんこう, hankō), 無視‎ (むし, mushi)
  •  Portuguese: desafio‎ (masc.)
  •  Interlingua: defiantia‎
  •  Bulgarian: непокорство‎
  •  Norwegian: motstand motvilje trass‎
  •  Turkish: meydan okuma‎
  •  Sorani: به‌ربه‌ره‌کانی‎
  •  French: défi‎ (masc.)
  •  Polish: opór‎ (masc.)
  •  Czech: vzdor‎ (masc.)
  •  Russian: непоко́рство‎ (neut.), неповинове́ние‎ (neut.), пренебреже́ние‎ (neut.) (disregard)
  •  German: Trotz‎ (masc.)
  •  Mandarin: 反抗‎ (fǎnkàng), 蔑視‎, 蔑视‎ (mièshì)
  •  Maori: whakatumatuma‎
  •  Spanish: desafío‎ (masc.)

What is the origin of the word defiance?

According to Etymonline, the word defiance has been used since the Middle English defiaunce in the early c14 which comes from the Old French desfiance, Old French defiance and desfiant, which is the present participle of desfier or present participle of défier. This comes the Vulgar Latin disfidare. This comes from the Latin prefix dis and the Latin fidus, from Proto-Indo-European roots. 

How can the word defiance be used in a sentence?

The word defiance can be used in many different ways in the English language. Using words in a sentence is a great way to memorize their definition. You can also try making a quiz or flashcards for yourself to study and test your knowledge on different definitions. Try using this word of the day in a sentence today. Below are many examples of defiance to get you started!

The man had a disposition of defiance. He was always in combat about something, and seemed to have spite for every person he came in contact with. His willingness for violent and daring arguments was a turn off.

The company’s defiance of the postal service health laws led to the loss of their license. They felt a dissatisfaction with this and made a personal appearance at city hall for renunciation, and an invitation to a hostile challenge. 

With defiance for her parents’ rules, she challenged the man to a duel. She knew she was the only one who could defend her parents’ honor.

What are synonyms and antonyms of the word defiance?

There are many different words and phrases that one can use in place of the word defiance. These are called synonyms, which are words and phrases that have the same meaning as another given word or phrase. Synonyms are a great tool to use to avoid repeating oneself, as well as to quickly expand one’s vocabulary. This list of synonyms for the word defiance is provided by Power Thesaurus

  •  breach
  •  contest
  •  bald-facedness
  •  balkiness
  •  aggressiveness
  •  dare
  •  infringement
  •  dispute
  •  refractoriness
  •  antipathy
  •  bravado
  •  antagonism
  •  violation
  •  perversity
  •  nonobservance
  •  waywardness
  •  mutiny
  •  confrontation
  •  noncooperation
  •  effrontery
  •  contravention
  •  conflict
  •  impudence
  •  misbehavior
  •  fight
  •  intractableness
  •  obstruction
  •  counteraction
  •  opposition
  •  indiscipline
  •  insubordination
  •  noncompliance
  •  repulsion
  •  contradiction
  •  order
  •  boldness
  •  assaultiveness
  •  revolt
  •  summons
  •  rebuff
  •  rebellions
  •  affront
  •  cartel
  •  temerity
  •  refusal
  •  disdain
  •  call
  •  audacity
  •  challenge
  •  protest
  •  friction
  •  disagreement
  •  obstinacy
  •  provocation
  •  transgression
  •  brazenness
  •  disesteem
  •  sedition
  •  knockback
  •  disobedience
  •  scorn
  •  obstreperousness
  •  renitence
  •  rejection
  •  contrariness
  •  disrespect
  •  enjoinment
  •  militantness
  •  recalcitrance
  •  stubbornness
  •  insurgence
  •  distaste
  •  disregard
  •  negativism
  •  ungovernability
  •  defy
  •  complaint
  •  disapproval
  •  despite
  •  hostility
  •  rebelliousness
  •  rebellion
  •  renitency
  •  objection
  •  insusceptibility
  •  unruliness
  •  disparagement
  •  insurgency
  •  demur
  •  recalcitrancy
  •  dissent
  •  defi
  •  insolence
  •  contumacy
  •  naughtiness
  •  contempt
  •  intractability
  •  denunciation
  •  obstructiveness
  •  resistance

There are also numerous different words that mean the opposite of the word defiance. These opposite words are called antonyms. Antonyms are another great tool to learn to expand your English language vocabulary. This list of opposite words for the word defiance is also provided by Power Thesaurus

  •  conformity
  •  informed consent
  •  allowance
  •  informed acceptance
  •  tractability
  •  expressed agreement
  •  informed agreement
  •  support
  •  agreement
  •  expressed approval
  •  informed approval
  •  firm acceptance
  •  respect
  •  expressed acceptance
  •  acquiescence
  •  consent with full knowledge
  •  admire
  •  firm confirmation
  •  explicit acceptance
  •  knowledgeable consent
  •  acceptance
  •  compliance
  •  compunction
  •  harmony
  •  accord
  •  approval
  •  acknowledgment
  •  expressed permission
  •  obedience
  •  patience
  •  firm approval
  •  expressed consent
  •   self-control
  •  surrender
  •  adherence
  •  slight difference
  •  government
  •  standard
  •  calmness
  •  praise
  •  contentment
  •  peace
  •  open door
  •  success
  •  commendation
  •  pleasure
  •  same
  •  great respect
  •  abidance
  •  consensus
  •  consent
  •  usualness
  •  calm
  •  small difference
  •  entitlement
  •  understanding
  •  reckoning
  •  okay
  •  passive obedience
  •  unanimity
  •  sameness
  •  endorsement
  •  normality
  •  guilty conscience
  •  truth
  •  accordance
  •  empire
  •  vogue
  •  lawfulness
  •  sociability
  •  compliment
  •  ratification
  •  satisfaction
  •  correction
  •  fine line
  •  sanction
  •  atonement
  •  flattery
  •  helm
  •  central control
  •  regularity
  •  happiness
  •  explicit agreement
  •  deference
  •  timidity
  •  answer
  •  explicit approval
  •  submission
  •  acclaim
  •  certainty
  •  regard
  •  subordination
  •  explicit confirmation
  •  submissiveness
  •  apology
  •  explicit consent
  •  docility
  •  accuracy
  •  explicit permission
  •  firm agreement

Overall, the word defiance means a lack of respect for authority as well as a willingness to go up against rules. This word is Latin and French in origin and can be used as a noun in a variety of situations in the English language.


  1. Defiance definition and meaning | Collins English Dictionary 
  2. defiance: meaning, origin, translation | Word Sense 
  3. Defiance synonyms – 1 033 Words and Phrases for Defiance | Power Thesaurus 
  4. Defiance antonyms – 211 Opposites of Defiance | Power Thesaurus 
  5. defiance | Origin and meaning of defiance | Online Etymology Dictionary