[pref-er-uhns, pref-ruhns]
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  1. the act of preferring.
  2. the state of being preferred.
  3. that which is preferred; choice: His preference is vanilla, not chocolate.
  4. a practical advantage given to one over others.
  5. a prior right or claim, as to payment of dividends or to assets upon dissolution.
  6. 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 formsnon·pref·er·ence, nounself-pref·er·ence, noun

Synonyms for preference

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Synonym study

3. See choice. Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for preference

Contemporary Examples of preference

Historical Examples of preference

British Dictionary definitions for preference


  1. the act of preferring
  2. something or someone preferred
  3. law
    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
  4. 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

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