"to delay, put off, postpone," late 14c., differren, deferren, from Old French diferer (14c.) and directly from Latin differre "carry apart, scatter, disperse;" also "be different, differ;" also "defer, put off, postpone," from assimilated form of dis- "away from" (see dis-) + ferre "to bear, carry," from PIE root *bher- (1) "to carry." Etymologically identical with differ; their spelling and pronunciation were differentiated from 15c., perhaps partly by association of this word with delay. Related: Deferred; deferring.
"yield, offer, render," mid-15c., "leave to another's judgment or determination," from Old French deferer "to yield, comply" (14c., Modern French déférer), from Latin deferre "carry away, transfer, grant," from de "down, away" (see de-) + ferre "to carry," from PIE root *bher- (1) "to carry." Sense of "refer (a matter) to someone" also was in the Latin verb. Related: Deferred; deferring.