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

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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 One reason is a set of rules that encourage the justices to confer with one another at early stages of each case. Bob Egelko, SFChronicle.com, "California Supreme Court consistently unanimous, even in contentious cases," 7 Sep. 2020 McCarthy and assistant head coach Rob Davis confer on the selection of captains during the week, then announce the captains during the team meeting the night before the game. Dallas News, "Here are the 6 Cowboys players Mike McCarthy has named team captains so far this season," 24 Sep. 2020 The title comes with freedom that some bankers covet, but without the day-to-day control of revenue and personnel that can confer power inside the firm. Liz Hoffman, WSJ, "Goldman’s Veteran Deal Makers Pass the Torch to New Leaders," 21 Sep. 2020 Well into the modern era, corporate charters were granted by kings and parliaments to confer monopoly status on trade with particular countries. Bruce Bartlett, The New Republic, "How Corporations Pillaged the Free Market," 14 Sep. 2020 Gene losses in evolution may sound like damaging events, since genes confer the traits that make life and health possible. Quanta Magazine, "By Losing Genes, Life Often Evolved More Complexity," 1 Sep. 2020 The documents the board held back in the past, according to Liebman, contained records of its internal deliberations in ongoing cases — documents that, if disclosed, could confer an advantage on one party to a labor dispute. Ian Macdougall, ProPublica, "“Cover Up”: House Democrats Subpoena Documents That NLRB Refused to Share in Ethics Investigation," 15 Sep. 2020 More quietly, however, other scientists are investigating whether a vaccine that has already been in use for decades could also confer some level of protection. Quanta Magazine, "‘Trained Immunity’ Offers Hope in Fight Against Coronavirus," 14 Sep. 2020 If natural infection does not always confer solid protection, will that be true for vaccines as well? Kai Kupferschmidt, Science | AAAS, "Some people can get the pandemic virus twice, a study suggests. That is no reason to panic," 24 Aug. 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

23 Oct 2020

Cite this Entry

“Confer.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/confer. Accessed 30 Oct. 2020.

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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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