View synonyms for refer


[ ri-fur ]

verb (used with object)

, re·ferred, re·fer·ring.
  1. to direct for information or anything required:

    He referred me to books on astrology.

  2. to direct the attention or thoughts of:

    The asterisk refers the reader to a footnote.

  3. to hand over or submit for information, consideration, treatment, assistance, decision, etc.:

    They were forced to refer the argument to arbitration.

    The doctor will decide whether to carry out blood tests in the office or to refer the patient to a hospital.

  4. to recommend:

    My electrician went above and beyond, and I would definitely refer her to a friend.

  5. to assign to a class, period, etc.; regard as belonging or related:

    Animals referred to the phylum Platyhelminthes are also known as flatworms due to their flattened bodies.

    Synonyms: impute, ascribe, attribute

verb phrase

    1. to have recourse or resort to; turn to, as for aid or information:

      I can't remember the answer offhand, so I'll have to refer to my notes.

    2. to mention; speak briefly of:

      The author referred to his teachers twice in the article.

    3. to relate to; apply to; mean or denote:

      The term “contingency fee” refers to an arrangement where legal fees are due to the attorney only if the case is successful.

    4. to direct attention to, as a reference mark does:

      Each number refers to an endnote.


/ rɪˈfɜːrəbəl; rɪˈfɜː; ˈrɛfərəbəl /


  1. intr to make mention (of)
  2. tr to direct the attention of (someone) for information, facts, etc

    the reader is referred to Chomsky, 1965

  3. intr to seek information (from)

    I referred to a dictionary of English usage

    he referred to his notes

  4. intr to be relevant (to); pertain or relate (to)

    this song refers to an incident in the Civil War

  5. tr to assign or attribute

    Cromwell referred his victories to God

  6. tr to hand over for consideration, reconsideration, or decision

    to refer a complaint to another department

  7. tr to hand back to the originator as unacceptable or unusable
  8. tr to fail (a student) in an examination
  9. tr to send back (a thesis) to a student for improvement
  10. refer to drawer
    a request by a bank that the payee consult the drawer concerning a cheque payable by that bank (usually because the drawer has insufficient funds in his account), payment being suspended in the meantime
  11. tr to direct (a patient) for treatment to another doctor, usually a specialist
  12. tr social welfare to direct (a client) to another agency or professional for a service

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The common practice of adding back to refer is tautologous, since this meaning is already contained in the re- of refer: this refers to (not back to ) what has already been said . However, when refer is used in the sense of passing a document or question for further consideration to the person from whom it was received, it may be appropriate to say he referred the matter back

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Derived Forms

  • reˈferrer, noun
  • reˈferral, noun
  • referable, adjective

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Other Words From

  • ref·er·a·ble re·fer·ra·ble re·fer·ri·ble [ref, -er-, uh, -b, uh, l, ri-, fur, -], adjective
  • re·fer·rer noun
  • mis·re·fer verb misreferred misreferring
  • pre·re·fer verb (used with object) prereferred prereferring
  • un·re·ferred adjective
  • well-re·ferred adjective

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Word History and Origins

Origin of refer1

First recorded in 1325–75; Middle English referren, from Latin referre “to bring back,” from re- re- + ferre “to bear, bring, carry”; bear 1

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Word History and Origins

Origin of refer1

C14: from Latin referre to carry back, from re- + ferre to bear 1

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Example Sentences

Some refer to the temps at which you can sleep comfortably, while others to the lowest possible temperature at which an average person will feel comfortable.

The first clue is the exhibition’s title, “Vertical Internal,” which refers to the spaces between the scan lines in an analog television signal.

Maybe he’s referring to the “interest” forms and alerts available from hospitals — I’ve signed up for those.

Pirates, then, are seen as romantic heroes — the underdogs fighting the establishment — whom historian Marcus Rediker refers to as proto-democratic, egalitarian and multicultural.

Last summer, Bregman referred him a big case simply because he wanted to help Peretti get a legal experience he had not yet had.

Panicked, I reached out to hoarding experts, who often refer to any kind of obsessive digital collecting as “infomania.”

Have a kid here –what some pejoratively refer to as an “anchor baby” – and it is tougher to be deported.

His acolytes, some of whom refer to themselves as “health freedom fighters” are undeterred by this sort of jealous shoptalk.

One thing I do to respect the people who want to keep hip hop ‘sacred’ is refer to myself as rap-cabaret.

How am I supposed to refer to a person of the opposite sex whom I am not married to but who is, well, “special”?

The royal Audiencia has investigated this matter, on petition of the cabildo, in order to refer it to that royal council.

I have no desire to use reproaches, and I shall refer as little as I may to the past.

The other combinational tone to which we refer is that produced by the interval of a major third.

I want to be sure K. himself takes notice and that is why I refer to him at the tail end of the cable.

Frank rather lost his breath at this suggestion, but he had the presence of mind to refer the decision to Chumru himself.