View synonyms for ref



[ ref ]


, Sports Slang.
, reffed, ref·fing.



abbreviation for

  1. referee.
  2. reference.
  3. referred.
  4. refining.
  5. reformation.
  6. reformed.
  7. refund.
  8. refunding.



abbreviation for

  1. referee
  2. reference
“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



/ rɛf /


  1. informal.
    short for referee
“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 History and Origins

Origin of ref1

First recorded in 1895–1900; by shortening
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Example Sentences

I’m glad that I’m in the league where refs are not going to call for ticky-tack stuff.

From Ozy

Get ready to bid farewell to the spitfire Bobby Bottleservice and big booty player Ref Jeff.

The home team eked out a win in the World Cup opening match, with a little help from the Japanese ref.

Down Fred went and the ref blew his whistle, piercing Croatian hearts as he pointed to the penalty spot.

There is, perhaps, a natural tendency to blame the ref when things don't go well.

Williams, enraged by the call, spewed a few nasty comments at the ref.

Or not -- sometimes we had to call in a ref to mediate, but for the most part, we were all pretty good about playing fair.

Folks calls 'im Laz'rus in ref'ence to de Bible chil' what riz up jes' same way lak', outen de daid col' tomb.

Refuge, ref′ūj, n. that which affords shelter or protection: an asylum or retreat: a resource or expedient.

Refragable, ref′ra-ga-bl, adj. that may be resisted: capable of refutation.

Ref.: Discussion in various reports of Comptroller of the Currency.


Related Words

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More About Ref

What does ref mean?

Ref is an informal and shortened way of referring to a referee, an official in a sporting event who enforces the rules of the game.

In sports, refs do things like call fouls and stop play when there has been a violation of the rules. Basketball, football, and soccer are examples of sports that used this kind of ref.

The word referee is also sometimes used to refer to a person who acts as a formal authority or arbitrator in some kind of decision, such as a legal case. Sometimes, the word refers to a person who’s responsible for reviewing scientific or academic papers or grant proposals. Referee can also be used in a figurative way to refer to someone who has to enforce the rules in some situation, as in I spent the afternoon playing referee to several toddlers.

Ref can be used as a shortened form of referee in these contexts, but it’s much less common than its use in sports.

Sometimes, the word is used as an informal way of addressing a referee, as in “Hey, Ref, good call!” said no one ever.  

Like referee, ref can be used as a verb meaning to act as a referee, as in I signed up to ref my daughter’s soccer games. 

Example: I’ve never understood why players argue with refs—have you ever seen one reverse their call? 

Where does ref come from?

The first records of the word ref as a shortened form of referee come from the 1890s. Referee is a combination of the verb refer and the suffix -ee, which is used to form words from verbs to indicate a person who is the beneficiary of the verb. In this way, a referee is a person to whom a matter is referred, often in order to make a decision on it.

Refs are commonly associated with basketball, football, and soccer, but other sports have refs. In some sports, the referee is called an umpire, which is often shortened to the similarly informal ump.

Refs are supposed to be enforcers of the rules who do not favor either player or team. Being a ref is often seen as a thankless job since players and fans are known for arguing with their calls (which, yes, are sometimes terrible).

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What are some other forms related to ref?

  • referee (full, unabbreviated form)

What are some synonyms for ref?

What are some words that share a root or word element with ref


What are some words that often get used in discussing ref?

How is ref used in real life?

Ref is most commonly used in the context of sports. It’s commonly used as both a noun and a verb.

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Is ref used correctly in the following sentence?

I hate having to act as a ref when my friends are in an argument—I wish they could just sort it out themselves.