When a young person shows respect and obedience to an older person, they’re being deferential to the elder’s wisdom and experience.

To be obedient, courteous, or dutiful are all ways of being deferential. Bowing low to the Queen is a deferential act when visiting Buckingham Palace. On sports teams, rookies are usually deferential to the veterans and star players, while all players should be deferential to the coach. All employees are expected to be at least a little deferential to their bosses. Being deferential shows respect, but also means “I know my place, and it’s lower than yours.”

Definitions of deferential
  1. adjective

    showing deference


    deferent, regardful


    full of or exhibiting respect

Word Family

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