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[pri-fur] /prɪˈfɜr/
verb (used with object), preferred, preferring.
to set or hold before or above other persons or things in estimation; like better; choose rather than:
to prefer beef to chicken.
Law. to give priority, as to one creditor over another.
to put forward or present (a statement, suit, charge, etc.) for consideration or sanction.
to put forward or advance, as in rank or office; promote:
to be preferred for advancement.
Origin of prefer
1350-1400; Middle English preferre < Latin praeferre to bear before, set before, prefer, equivalent to prae- pre- + ferre to bear1
Related forms
[pri-fur-id-lee, -furd-lee] /prɪˈfɜr ɪd li, -ˈfɜrd li/ (Show IPA),
preferredness, noun
preferrer, noun
unpreferred, adjective
1. favor, fancy. 3. offer, proffer, tender.
1. reject. 3. retract.
Synonym Study
1. See choose. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for preferring
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • Yet is incensed against her for preferring her own relations to him.

    Clarissa, Volume 1 (of 9) Samuel Richardson
  • He did not attempt to defend himself, however, preferring to turn the quarrel into a joke.

    His Masterpiece Emile Zola
  • They grow in groups in damp places, preferring hemlock trees.

  • The preferring of Apollo and his instruments to Marsyas and his instruments is not at all strange, I said.

    The Republic Plato
  • La Signorina did not reply, preferring to hold her tongue, lest it overthrow her.

    The Lure of the Mask Harold MacGrath
British Dictionary definitions for preferring


verb -fers, -ferring, -ferred
(when transitive, may take a clause as object or an infinitive) to like better or value more highly: I prefer to stand
(law) to give preference, esp to one creditor over others
(esp of the police) to put (charges) before a court, judge, magistrate, etc, for consideration and judgment
(transitive; often passive) to advance in rank over another or others; promote
Derived Forms
preferrer, noun
Usage note
Normally, to is used after prefer and preferable, not than: I prefer Brahms to Tchaikovsky; a small income is preferable to no income at all. However, than or rather than should be used to link infinitives: I prefer to walk than/rather than to catch the train
Word Origin
C14: from Latin praeferre to carry in front, prefer, from prae in front + ferre to bear
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 preferring



late 14c., "to put forward or advance in rank or fortune, to promote," from Old French preferer (14c.) and directly from Latin praeferre "place or set before, carry in front," from prae "before" (see pre-) + ferre "to carry, to place" (see infer). Meaning "to esteem (something) more than others" also is recorded from late 14c. Original sense in English is preserved in preferment.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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