[ ref-er-uhns, ref-ruhns ]
/ 藞r蓻f 蓹r 蓹ns, 藞r蓻f r蓹ns /
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See synonyms for: reference / referenced / references / referencing on Thesaurus.com

verb (used with object), ref路er路enced, ref路er路enc路ing.
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Origin of reference

First recorded in 1580鈥90; refer + -ence



1. allusion, reference 2. reference , referral
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, 漏 Random House, Inc. 2023


What does reference mean?

Reference means an act of referring, that is, an act of directing someone to something, Jaya noted the name of the author for future reference.

Reference also means a direct mention or to the actual books or materials that someone is being referred to, as in The greedy pig named Bob Bacon was a reference to the actual business tycoon of the same name.

Reference can also mean material that can be referred to for information, as in The encyclopedia is a good reference to use when doing your homework.

In a piece of writing, a reference is a direction or citation leading a reader to another book or passage for more information, as in The author listed several references at the bottom of the page.

Any of these senses can also be used as verbs, as in All of the graphical data was referenced at the end of the study.

Reference is also commonly used to mean people that give testimony about a person鈥檚 character, such as for a job application, as in The teacher agreed to be listed as a reference on Namita鈥檚 college application.

Example: Teachers often tell their students how many references their research papers need to have.

Where does reference come from?

The first records of the term reference come from around 1580. It combines the word refer, meaning to direct someone to, and the suffix ence, which forms a noun and indicates an action.

Reference has multiple meanings that are all commonly used. In general, the word reference in some way indicates that your attention is being directed somewhere. References in writing often direct you to other pieces of writing, while a list of job references directs a hiring department to sources that will vouch for your work experience.

Of course, the website you are using right now is also an excellent reference you can direct someone to when they are confused about words and their meanings!

Did you know 鈥 ?

What are some other forms related to reference?

  • misreference (noun)
  • nonreference (noun)
  • prereference (noun)
  • subreference (noun)
  • referential (adjective)

What are some synonyms for reference?

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

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

How is reference used in real life?

Reference has several different commonly used meanings.

Try using reference!

Is the following a correct use of reference?

It is wise to keep a copy of any contract you sign for your own reference.

How to use reference in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for reference

/ (藞r蓻f蓹r蓹ns, 藞r蓻fr蓹ns) /

verb (tr)
to furnish or compile a list of references for (an academic thesis, publication, etc)
to make a reference to; refer tohe referenced Chomsky, 1956
commerce with reference toreference your letter of the 9th inst Abbreviation: re

Derived forms of reference

referencer, nounreferential (藢r蓻f蓹藞r蓻n蕛蓹l), adjective
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition 漏 William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 漏 HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Other Idioms and Phrases with reference


see in regard (reference) to.

The American Heritage庐 Idioms Dictionary Copyright 漏 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.