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[pref-er-uh ns, pref-ruh ns] /ˈprɛf ər əns, ˈprɛf rəns/
the act of preferring.
the state of being preferred.
that which is preferred; choice:
His preference is vanilla, not chocolate.
a practical advantage given to one over others.
a prior right or claim, as to payment of dividends or to assets upon dissolution.
the favoring of one country or group of countries by granting special advantages over others in international trade.
Origin of preference
From the Medieval Latin word praeferentia, dating back to 1595-1605. See prefer, -ence
Related forms
nonpreference, noun
self-preference, noun
3. selection, pick.
Synonym Study
3. See choice. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for preference
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • How my heart rises at her preference of them to me, when she is convinced of their injustice to me!

    Clarissa, Volume 1 (of 9) Samuel Richardson
  • Let us consider, again, how preference in a writer is established.

    The Man Shakespeare Frank Harris
  • That would be showing a preference, and a preference is never fair.

  • All our reasonings a priori will never be able to show us any foundation for this preference.

  • In preference to talking to her, he preferred to stand a little way off and look at her.

    Roden's Corner Henry Seton Merriman
British Dictionary definitions for preference


/ˈprɛfərəns; ˈprɛfrəns/
the act of preferring
something or someone preferred
  1. the settling of the claims of one or more creditors before or to the exclusion of those of the others
  2. a prior right to payment, as of a dividend or share in the assets of a company in the event of liquidation
(commerce) the granting of favour or precedence to particular foreign countries, as by levying differential tariffs
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for preference

mid-15c., "advancement in position or status;" 1650s as "act of prefering," from Middle French preference (14c., Modern French préférence), from Medieval Latin preferentia, from past participle stem of Latin praeferrere (see prefer). Sense of "that which one prefers" is from 1852.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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