• synonyms


[ref-er-uh nt]
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  1. the object or event to which a term or symbol refers.
  2. Logic. the first term in a proposition to which succeeding terms relate.
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Origin of referent

1835–45; < Latin referent- (stem of referēns), present participle of referre. See refer, -ent
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words


Examples from the Web for referent

Historical Examples

  • The strategy is to place the domain of the referent in the writings.

    The Civilization of Illiteracy

    Mihai Nadin

  • The only referent of philosophy is the human being constituted in practical experiences.

  • Either the term "minor epic" or "epyllion" is satisfactory, provided its referent is clear, and accurately described.

British Dictionary definitions for referent


  1. the object or idea to which a word or phrase refersCompare sense (def. 12)
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Word Origin

C19: from Latin referens, from referre to refer
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 referent


1838, from Latin referentem (nominative referens), present participle of referre (see refer). As a noun from 1844.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper