confer

verb
con·​fer | \kən-ˈfər \
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 \ noun
conferrable \ kən-​ˈfər-​ə-​bəl \ adjective
conferral \ kən-​ˈfər-​əl \ noun
conferrer \ kən-​ˈfər-​ər \ 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

Wolbachia doesn’t confer sterility in Anopheles albimanus. Megan Molteni, WIRED, "How ‘Self-Limiting’ Mosquitos Can Help Eradicate Malaria," 21 June 2018 At a minimum, a 'split roll' should be provided to ensure that large commercial enterprises do not receive the benefit of property tax limits that the voters’ initiative intended to confer upon individual taxpayers. sacbee, "Tax haircuts and concerts – or the rich? Californians consider the options," 9 July 2018 However, Robart's order explaining his reasoning is temporarily sealed to give parties to the case time to confer about whether portions of the order need to be redacted. Timothy B. Lee, Ars Technica, "Judge deals blow to women suing Microsoft over gender discrimination," 26 June 2018 With this legislation, Chau and Hertzberg are hoping to confer some of the same rights that Europeans now have onto Californians. Issie Lapowsky, WIRED, "Bill Could Give Californians Unprecedented Control Over Data," 22 June 2018 The Queen has today been pleased to confer a Dukedom on Prince Henry of Wales. Elise Taylor, Vogue, "Queen Elizabeth Bestows An Official Title Upon Prince Harry and Meghan Markle," 19 May 2018 The Queen has today been pleased to confer a Dukedom on Prince Henry of Wales. Christopher Rosa, Glamour, "These Are Meghan Markle and Prince Harry's Official Royal Titles," 19 May 2018 The Queen has today been pleased to confer a Dukedom on Prince Henry of Wales. Caroline Hallemann, Town & Country, "What Will Meghan Markle's Royal Title Be When She Marries Prince Harry?," 19 May 2018 The Queen has today been pleased to confer a Dukedom on Prince Henry of Wales. Dave Quinn, PEOPLE.com, "Khloé Kardashian Congratulates Meghan Markle on Royal Wedding: She's a 'Princess Now!'," 19 May 2018

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

5 Nov 2018

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

: 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 \
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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