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verb (used with object), pre·ferred, pre·fer·ring.
  1. to set or hold before or above other persons or things in estimation; like better; choose rather than: to prefer beef to chicken.
  2. Law. to give priority, as to one creditor over another.
  3. to put forward or present (a statement, suit, charge, etc.) for consideration or sanction.
  4. 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 formspre·fer·red·ly [pri-fur-id-lee, -furd-lee] /prɪˈfɜr ɪd li, -ˈfɜrd li/, adverbpre·fer·red·ness, nounpre·fer·rer, nounun·pre·ferred, adjective

Synonym study

1. See choose.

Synonyms for prefer

See more synonyms for on

Antonyms for prefer

1. reject. 3. retract. Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for prefer

Contemporary Examples of prefer

Historical Examples of prefer

British Dictionary definitions for prefer


verb -fers, -ferring or -ferred
  1. (when tr, may take a clause as object or an infinitive) to like better or value more highlyI prefer to stand
  2. law to give preference, esp to one creditor over others
  3. (esp of the police) to put (charges) before a court, judge, magistrate, etc, for consideration and judgment
  4. (tr; often passive) to advance in rank over another or others; promote
Derived Formspreferrer, noun

Word Origin for prefer

C14: from Latin praeferre to carry in front, prefer, from prae in front + ferre to bear


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
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 prefer

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