[ ri-fur ]
See synonyms for: referreferredreferring on

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.

  1. 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.

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

  3. 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.

Verb Phrases
  1. refer to,

    • 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.

    • to mention; speak briefly of: The author referred to his teachers twice in the article.

    • 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.

    • to direct attention to, as a reference mark does: Each number refers to an endnote.

Origin of refer

First recorded in 1325–75; Middle English referren, from Latin referre “to bring back,” from re- re- + ferre “to bear, bring, carry”; see also bear1

Other words for refer

Other words from refer

  • ref·er·a·ble, re·fer·ra·ble, re·fer·ri·ble [ref-er-uh-buhl, ri-fur-], /ˈrɛf ər ə bəl, rɪˈfɜr-/, adjective
  • re·fer·rer, noun
  • mis·re·fer, verb, mis·re·ferred, mis·re·fer·ring.
  • pre·re·fer, verb (used with object), pre·re·ferred, pre·re·fer·ring.
  • un·re·ferred, adjective
  • well-re·ferred, adjective Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2024

How to use refer in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for refer


/ (rɪˈfɜː) /

verb-fers, -ferring or -ferred (often foll by to)
  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

  1. (intr) to seek information (from): I referred to a dictionary of English usage; he referred to his notes

  2. (intr) to be relevant (to); pertain or relate (to): this song refers to an incident in the Civil War

  3. (tr) to assign or attribute: Cromwell referred his victories to God

  4. (tr) to hand over for consideration, reconsideration, or decision: to refer a complaint to another department

  5. (tr) to hand back to the originator as unacceptable or unusable

  6. (tr) British to fail (a student) in an examination

  7. (tr) British to send back (a thesis) to a student for improvement

  8. 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

  9. (tr) to direct (a patient) for treatment to another doctor, usually a specialist

  10. (tr) social welfare to direct (a client) to another agency or professional for a service

Origin of refer

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

usage For refer

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

Derived forms of refer

  • referable (ˈrɛfərəbəl) or referrable (rɪˈfɜːrəbəl), adjective
  • referral, noun
  • referrer, noun

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