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

Synonyms for confer

Synonyms

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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 Merkel and the governors plan to confer again Jan. 25 on what happens after the end of the month. Time, "Germany Extends COVID-19 Lockdown Until Jan. 31 in Effort to Reduce Infection Rates," 5 Jan. 2021 In 1972, to his great satisfaction, he was invited to confer for four days with a group of fifty teachers in the city of Reggio Emilia, a hot spot of postwar Italy’s vigorous early-education movement. Joan Acocella, The New Yorker, "The Italian Genius Who Mixed Marxism and Children’s Literature," 7 Dec. 2020 But there is also the possibility the vaccine might even confer benefits to the breastfeeding child through passive immunity, according to the ABM. Miriam Fauzia, USA TODAY, "Fact check: Pregnant women do receive vaccines, but more study needed on COVID-19 shot," 29 Dec. 2020 That same week, officials from a unit of the CDC responsible for monitoring lab safety and quality, led by associate agency director Stephan Monroe, traveled to the FDA’s offices in Silver Spring to confer about the false positives. David Willman, Anchorage Daily News, "The CDC’s failed race to roll out a virus test," 26 Dec. 2020 The implication is that their very creditable hard work and achievement in one field ought to confer extra weight to their views in other fields. Eric Zorn, chicagotribune.com, "Column: It’s not just about Jill Biden — even physicians should drop the ‘doctor’ outside of professional contexts," 14 Dec. 2020 Those that have persisted, scientists believe, may confer some benefits to humans today. Katie Hunt, CNN, "How Neanderthal DNA affects human health -- including the risk of getting Covid-19," 9 Dec. 2020 In these markets, water rights confer annual water-pumping allocations to holders, and the sales of those pumping rights among water users are recorded and used to price the NASDAQ Veles Index. Steve H. Hanke, National Review, "Scarce Water Finally Receives Its Due, Namely a Price," 7 Dec. 2020 Jimmy Mizote under his uniform, believed to confer protection in Japanese culture to a warrior who wore it. Matthew Barakat, Star Tribune, "National museum dedicated to Army debuts on Veterans Day," 11 Nov. 2020

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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Time Traveler for confer

Time Traveler

The first known use of confer was circa 1500

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Statistics for confer

Last Updated

21 Jan 2021

Cite this Entry

“Confer.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/confer. Accessed 26 Jan. 2021.

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More Definitions for confer

confer

verb
How to pronounce confer (audio)

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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Comments on confer

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