Defy vs Disdain - What's the difference?

defy | disdain |

In obsolete|lang=en terms the difference between defy and disdain

is that defy is (obsolete) a challenge while disdain is (obsolete) to be indignant or offended.

As nouns the difference between defy and disdain

is that defy is (obsolete) a challenge while disdain is (uncountable) a feeling of contempt or scorn.

As verbs the difference between defy and disdain

is that defy is to renounce or dissolve all bonds of affiance, faith, or obligation with; to reject, refuse, or renounce while disdain is to regard (someone or something) with strong contempt.




  • (obsolete) A challenge.
  • (Dryden)


  • To renounce or dissolve all bonds of affiance, faith, or obligation with; to reject, refuse, or renounce.
  • * 1603-1625 , (Beaumont and Fletcher)
  • For thee I have defied my constant mistress.
  • To challenge (someone) to do something difficult.
  • * 1671 , (John Milton), (Samson Agonistes)
  • I once again / Defie thee to the trial of mortal fight.
  • * 1900 , Edith King Hall, Adventures in Toyland Chapter 6
  • *:"So you actually think yours is good-looking?" sneered the Baker. "Why, I could make a better-looking one out of a piece of dough."
  • *:"I defy you to," the Hansom-driver replied. "A face like mine is not easily copied. Nor am I the only person of that opinion. All the ladies think that I am beautiful. And of course I go by what they think."
  • To refuse to obey.
  • * 2005 , , Presidential Radio Address - 19 March 2005
  • *:Before coalition forces arrived, Iraq was ruled by a dictatorship that murdered its own citizens, threatened its neighbors, and defied the world.
  • *{{quote-magazine, date=2013-08-10, volume=408, issue=8848, magazine=(The Economist), author=Lexington
  • , title= Keeping the mighty honest , passage=British journalists shun complete respectability, feeling a duty to be ready to savage the mighty, or rummage through their bins. Elsewhere in Europe, government contracts and subsidies ensure that press barons will only defy the mighty so far.}}
  • To not conform to or follow a pattern or certain set of rules.
  • * 1955 , Anonymous, The Urantia Book Paper 41
  • *:By tossing this nineteenth electron back and forth between its own orbit and that of its lost companion more than twenty-five thousand times a second, a mutilated stone atom is able partially to defy gravity and thus successfully to ride the emerging streams of light and energy, the sunbeams, to liberty and adventure.
  • * 2013 , Jeré Longman in the New York Times, W.N.B.A. Hopes Griner Can Change Perceptions, as Well as Game Itself
  • *:“To be determined,” Kane said, “is whether Griner and her towering skill and engaging personality will defy the odds and attract corporate sponsors as part of widespread public acceptance four decades after passage of the gender-equity legislation known as Title IX.”
  • Derived terms

    * death-defying






  • (uncountable) A feeling of contempt or scorn.
  • The cat viewed the cheap supermarket catfood with disdain and stalked away.
  • * William Shakespeare, Much ado about Nothing :
  • Disdain and scorn ride sparkling in her eyes.
  • (obsolete) That which is worthy to be disdained or regarded with contempt and aversion.
  • * Spenser
  • Most loathsome, filthy, foul, and full of vile disdain .
  • (obsolete) The state of being despised; shame.
  • (Shakespeare)


    * condescension, contempt, scorn * See also

    Derived terms

    * disdainful


    (en verb)
  • To regard (someone or something) with strong contempt.
  • * Bible, 1 Sam. xvii. 42
  • When the Philistine saw David, he disdained him; for he was but a youth.
  • * The Qur'an, trans. , verse 170
  • *:The Messiah, Jesus the son of Mary, is but the apostle of God and His Word, […] The Messiah doth surely not disdain' to be a servant of God, nor do the angels who are nigh to Him ; and whosoever '''disdains''' His service and is too proud, He will gather them altogether to Himself. But as for those who believe and do what is right, He will pay their hire and will give increase to them of His grace. But as for those who ' disdain and are too proud, He will punish them with a grievous woe, and they shall not find for them other than God a patron or a help.
  • * {{quote-news, year=2012, date=November 7, author=Matt Bai, title=Winning a Second Term, Obama Will Confront Familiar Headwinds, work=New York Times citation
  • , passage=The country’s first black president, and its first president to reach adulthood after the Vietnam War and Watergate, Mr. Obama seemed like a digital-age leader who could at last dislodge the stalemate between those who clung to the government of the Great Society, on the one hand, and those who disdained the very idea of government, on the other.}}
  • (obsolete) To be indignant or offended.
  • * 1526 , William Tyndale, trans. Bible , Matthew XXI:
  • When the chefe prestes and scribes sawe, the marveylles that he dyd [...], they desdayned , and sayde unto hym: hearest thou what these saye?


    * contemn * See also