showing humble submission and respect to authority.


US English

UK English

Part of Speech



respectful, submissive, obedient, compliant, reverential, deferent, acquiescent, attentive, courteous.


disrespectful, insolent, discourteous, impudent, irreverent, impertinent, insubordinate, disobedient, defiant.

Word Forms

Part of Speech Words
Noun deferments, deferrals, deferment, deferences, deference, deferral
Verb deferring, defer, defers, deferred
Adjective deferent, deferential
Adverb deferentially

Example Sentences

  • The waiter was very deferential to the celebrity who walked into the restaurant.

  • The employee showed a deferential attitude towards his boss during the meeting.

  • The students were deferential to their teacher and always addressed her as ‘Madam’.

  • Many cultures place a high value on being deferential to elders and those in positions of authority.


The word “deferential” is typically used to describe a person or behavior that shows respect or submission to authority, whether it be someone in a position of power, an elder, or even a cultural tradition. It is an adjective and is often paired with words like “attitude,” “behavior,” and “gesture” to describe how someone is acting towards an authority figure.

The root word of deferential is “defer,” which means to submit to the authority, opinion, or wishes of another. The suffix “ent” is added to “defer” to create the adjective “deferential,” which describes the quality or characteristic of the act of submitting to authority.

There are many different synonyms and antonyms that can be used in place of or opposite to this word, depending on the context in which it is being used. Some synonyms include respectful, dutiful, subservient, obliging, and attentive, while some antonyms include disrespectful, impudent, insubordinate, and discourteous.

It is important to note that deferential behavior can be seen as a sign of respect in many cultures and can be an important aspect of social interaction, particularly in hierarchical or collectivist societies. However, it can also be viewed as overly servile or subservient in more individualistic cultures, where standing up for oneself and questioning authority is valued.

In conclusion, the word deferential carries with it an important connotation of respect and submission to authority. While it is an important aspect of many cultures, it can also be viewed negatively in some contexts. It its important to be aware of how to use the word in its proper context, depending on the situation and culture in which it is being used.