confer

verb
con·​fer | \ kən-ˈfər How to pronounce confer (audio) \
conferred; conferring

Definition of confer

intransitive verb

: to compare views or take counsel : consult

transitive verb

1 : to bestow from or as if from a position of superiority conferred an honorary degree on her knowing how to read was a gift conferred with manhood— Murray Kempton
2 : to give (something, such as a property or characteristic) to someone or something a reputation for power will confer power— John Spanier

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Other Words from confer

conferment \ kən-​ˈfər-​mənt How to pronounce conferment (audio) \ noun
conferrable \ kən-​ˈfər-​ə-​bəl How to pronounce conferrable (audio) \ adjective
conferral \ kən-​ˈfər-​əl How to pronounce conferral (audio) \ noun
conferrer \ kən-​ˈfər-​ər How to pronounce conferrer (audio) \ noun

Synonyms for confer

Synonyms

accord, award, grant, vest

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Choose the Right Synonym for confer

give, present, donate, bestow, confer, afford mean to convey to another as a possession. give, the general term, is applicable to any passing over of anything by any means. give alms gave her a ride on a pony give my love to your mother present carries a note of formality and ceremony. present an award donate is likely to imply a publicized giving (as to charity). donate a piano to the orphanage bestow implies the conveying of something as a gift and may suggest condescension on the part of the giver. bestow unwanted advice confer implies a gracious giving (as of a favor or honor). confer an honorary degree afford implies a giving or bestowing usually as a natural or legitimate consequence of the character of the giver. the trees afford shade a development that affords us some hope

Confer vs. Consult

Confer and consult are very closely related in meaning, and each has senses that are synonymous with the other’s. But as is so often the case with near-synonyms, there are contexts in which one word is preferable to the other.

If you confer with someone, it is entirely possible that you will be seeking advice, but you could also simply be having a discussion (“they conferred privately before making a decision”). If you are consulting someone or something, it is more likely that you are seeking advice (“he consulted his doctor before deciding on a course of treatment”). Consult is unambiguously the correct choice when one is seeking guidance or information from a non-human source; you would consult (not confer with) a dictionary for information on a word.

The sense of confer that is concerned with giving something (as in, “education confers many benefits”) is not shared by consult.

Examples of confer in a Sentence

The cameleers … conferred with each other about the safest path across. — Greg Child, Mixed Emotions: Mountaineering Writings of Greg Child, 1993 He liked the ease and glitter of the life, and the lustre conferred on him by being a member of this group of rich and conspicuous people. — Edith Wharton, The House of Mirth, 1905 It was a traditional compliment to be whinged at by an Englishman. It was his way of saying he trusted you, he was conferring upon you the privilege of getting to know the real him. — Margaret Atwood, New Yorker, 5 Mar.1990 The lawyer and judge conferred about the ruling. the British monarch continues to confer knighthood on those who are outstanding in their fields of endeavor
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Recent Examples on the Web

After conferring with technicians on the ground, the flight crew turned off one of the ADIRUs and the plane’s tendency to dive went away. Jeff Wise, Popular Mechanics, "4 Times Before the Boeing 737 Max 8 That Plane Automation Software Went Haywire," 18 Mar. 2019 After conferring Monday with Afghan leaders and American military commanders and diplomats in Kabul, Pat Shanahan was scheduled to attend a NATO defense ministers meeting in Brussels and an international security conference in Munich, Germany. Robert Burns, The Seattle Times, "New Pentagon chief makes global debut with status uncertain," 11 Feb. 2019 The tax code already confers a lot of benefits upon capital gains income. Jonathan Chait, Daily Intelligencer, "Trump Economist Wants to Give Rich People Another Tax Break, Without a Vote in Congress," 20 Mar. 2018 Instead, the city and SPOG were ordered to confer and agree on a new, suitable assignment for Shepherd, the ruling said. Lewis Kamb, The Seattle Times, "Arbitrator reinstates Seattle police officer fired in 2016 for punching intoxicated handcuffed woman," 21 Nov. 2018 The crew got around this rather surprising pitfall by using voice pipes from the bridge to confer navigational orders. Lauren Hubbard, Town & Country, "The Story Behind the Royal Family's Yacht, Britannia," 30 Sep. 2018 In addition to inviting DeVos to speak at commencement, Towey had planned to confer to DeVos an honorary doctorate. Annika Hammerschlag, USA TODAY, "Betsy DeVos gets standing ovation from Florida graduates after religious speech," 5 May 2018 That means a certain bold rusticity; little jolts conferred by charring, smoking and in-house pickling; inventive use of cheese and dairy; and, above all, the showcasing of fine local produce. Houston Chronicle, "Alison Cook's Top 10 Houston restaurants," 10 May 2018 This may not be news to those who practice yoga, but even die-hard enthusiasts will be surprised at the number of other health benefits yoga can confer—often to a larger degree than aerobic exercise. Adam Bean, Good Housekeeping, "What Happens To Your Body When You Start Doing Yoga," 11 Nov. 2015

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'confer.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of confer

circa 1500, in the meaning defined at intransitive sense

History and Etymology for confer

Latin conferre to bring together, from com- + ferre to carry — more at bear

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Statistics for confer

Last Updated

7 May 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for confer

The first known use of confer was circa 1500

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More Definitions for confer

confer

verb

English Language Learners Definition of confer

formal
: to discuss something important in order to make a decision
: to give (something, such as a degree, award, title, right, etc.) to someone or something

confer

verb
con·​fer | \ kən-ˈfər How to pronounce confer (audio) \
conferred; conferring

Kids Definition of confer

1 : bestow, present Many honors were conferred upon her at graduation.
2 : to compare views especially in studying a problem The umpires decided to confer with one another.

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More from Merriam-Webster on confer

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for confer

Spanish Central: Translation of confer

Nglish: Translation of confer for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of confer for Arabic Speakers

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