Merriam-Webster Word of the Day: Defer

The Merriam-Webster Word of the Day is defer. Read on for what it means, how it’s used, and more.

What It Means

Defer means “to choose to do (something) at a later time.” 

// She deferred her master’s program for a year so that she could travel the world.

DEFER in Context

“… lack of access to regular mortgage lending forces our clients to turn to predatory alternative lending and rent-to-own schemes or defer making needed repairs to their aging homes.” — Rachel Labush and Michael Froehlich, The Philadelphia Inquirer, 29 Aug. 2022

Did You Know?

There are two distinct words spelled defer in English, each with its own history and meaning. The defer having to do with allowing someone else to decide or choose something, or with agreeing to follow someone else’s decision, tradition, etc., (as in “He deferred to his parents’ wishes”) comes from the Latin verb dēferre, meaning “to bring down, convey, transfer, submit.” The defer synonymous with delay comes from Latin differre, which itself has several meanings, including two that resound in its English descendant: “to postpone” and “to delay.” Another meaning of differre is “to be unlike or distinct,” which makes apparent another of its descendants: differ, meaning “to be different.”

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