• deference •
Part of Speech: Noun, mass
Meaning: Courteous respect that leads to yielding our own needs or desires to those of something or someone else.
Notes: Today's word is the process noun from the verb defer "to yield to the will or wishes of someone else". The adjective is deferent or deferential and the adverb, deferentially. The trap, of course, is the confusion of deference with difference. While a deferent talkshow host these days would be quite different for the US, the two words are quite discrete in sound and meaning.
In Play: Well, I guess we should at least mention the 'World' Series of US baseball: "In deference to the Colorado Rockies fans among us, we will avoid any discussion of Boston or Massachusetts until the World Series is over." Deference, however, is respectful yielding to any requirement, person or not: "It is only my deference for the law that prevents me from physically accosting you for saying that!"
Word History: This Good Word is the English version of Old French deferer "hand over, defer to", inherited from Latin deferre "to carry away, refer to". The Latin verb is made up of de- "from, away" + ferre "to carry". The root of ferre, fer-, developed from Proto-Indo-European bher- "bear, carry", which went into the making of English (to) bear. In fact, this primitive root turns up in several English words, including the barrow of wheelbarrow, from Old English bearwe "basket". Scottish bairn "child" is another, not to forget the BR in bring.
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