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

Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, R-Wis., left, confers with House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., during a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, May 16, 2018. Andrew Malcolm, San Francisco Chronicle, "How a GOP-led Congress defeats GOP members," 22 May 2018 Wade said some of the preparation remains the same, such as conferring with the starters. Ira Winderman, Sun-Sentinel.com, "Wade never thought he'd be playoff reserve, but at peace with role," 19 Apr. 2018 In stylish offices on both coasts, carrying a bright green bottle of pulverized spinach, celery, and kale now confers automatic insider status. Courtney Rubin, Marie Claire, "Cleansing's Dirty Secret," 26 Apr. 2013 The clones seem to be driven by positive selection; the mutations are conferring a competitive advantage to the cells that carry them, allowing them to grow faster than neighboring cells. Diana Gitig, Ars Technica, "Healthy tissues in older people carry a lot of cancer-promoting mutations," 26 Oct. 2018 Money confers an implicit value on things in a way that’s deceptive and very often wrong. Julia Felsenthal, Vogue, "The Price of Everything,," 18 Oct. 2018 On their wedding day, the Queen conferred the title of Duke and Duchess of York on Andrew and Sarah. Maggie Maloney, Town & Country, "A Complete Timeline of Prince Andrew and Sarah Ferguson's Relationship," 8 Oct. 2018 Tom Sullivan, a candidate for a Colorado State Senate district, confers with his campaign manager Kris Grant while making campaign calls from Sullivan's home in Centennial, Colo., on Thursday, Sept. 20, 2018. Ryan J. Foley, Fox News, "AP: Despite shootings, states return to familiar patterns," 26 Sep. 2018 Vice-President Mike Pence conferred last month with Mr Nunn and Mr Lugar. The Economist, "North Korea presents nuclear disarmament’s biggest challenge yet," 5 July 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

29 Jan 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 \
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

Comments on confer

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