[kuh n-fur]

verb (used without object), con·ferred, con·fer·ring.

to consult together; compare opinions; carry on a discussion or deliberation.

verb (used with object), con·ferred, con·fer·ring.

to bestow upon as a gift, favor, honor, etc.: to confer a degree on a graduate.
Obsolete. to compare.

Origin of confer

1400–50 for earlier sense “to summon”; 1520–30 for current senses; late Middle English conferen < Latin conferre to bring together, compare, consult with, equivalent to con- con- + ferre to carry, bear1
Related formscon·fer·ment, nouncon·fer·ra·ble, adjectivecon·fer·rer, nounnon·con·fer·ra·ble, adjectivepre·con·fer, verb (used without object), pre·con·ferred, pre·con·fer··con·fer, verb, re·con·ferred, re·con·fer·ring.un·con·ferred, adjectivewell-con·ferred, adjective

Synonym study

1. See consult. 2. See give. Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for confer

Contemporary Examples of confer

Historical Examples of confer

  • Who do you imagine has it in contemplation to confer a distinction upon you, sir?'

  • Was she not worth as much honour as any man, be he who he might, could confer upon her?

    Heather and Snow

    George MacDonald

  • To this day, in the Tyrol it is still believed to confer fine vision.


    Benjamin Taylor

  • Cowed, Courthon shrugged and went apart to confer with his friend.

    St. Martin's Summer

    Rafael Sabatini

  • She'll meet me, however, at the masked ball to-night, where we can confer together.

    One Of Them

    Charles James Lever

British Dictionary definitions for confer


verb -fers, -ferring or -ferred

(tr; foll by on or upon) to grant or bestow (an honour, gift, etc)
(intr) to hold or take part in a conference or consult together
(tr) an obsolete word for compare
Derived Formsconferment or conferral, nounconferrable, adjectiveconferrer, noun

Word Origin for confer

C16: from Latin conferre to gather together, compare, from com- together + ferre to bring
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

Word Origin and History for confer

1530s, from Middle French conférer (14c.) "to give, converse, compare," from Latin conferre "to bring together," figuratively "to compare; consult, deliberate, talk over," from com- "together" (see com-) + ferre "to bear" (see infer). Sense of "taking counsel" led to conference. The meaning "compare" (common 1530-1650) is largely obsolete, but the abbreviation cf. still is used in this sense. Related: Conferred; conferring.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper