Definition of confer
- conferred an honorary degree on her
- knowing how to read was a gift conferred with manhood
- —Murray Kempton
- a reputation for power will confer power
- —John Spanier
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
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.
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.
: 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
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