verb pre·fer \ pri-ˈfər \
Updated on: 14 Jan 2018

Definition of prefer

preferred; preferring
transitive verb
1 : to promote or advance to a rank or position
2 : to like better or best
  • prefers sports to reading
  • prefers to watch TV
3 : to give (a creditor) priority
4 archaic : to put or set forward or before someone : recommend
5 : to bring or lay against someone
  • won't prefer charges
6 : to bring forward or lay before one for consideration



Examples of prefer in a Sentence

  1. Some people like vanilla ice cream, but I prefer chocolate.

  2. She tends to prefer small college campuses.

  3. I prefer this dictionary because of its helpful examples.

  4. Which one is the preferred alternative?

  5. What is the preferred pronunciation of her name?

Recent Examples of prefer from the Web

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'prefer.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

Origin and Etymology of prefer

Middle English preferren, from Anglo-French preferrer, from Latin praeferre to put before, prefer, from prae- + ferre to carry — more at bear

prefer Synonyms

care (for), favor, lean (toward or towards), like, be partial to, go in for
decline, refuse, reject, turn down
Related Words
adore, cotton (to), delight (in), dig, enjoy, fancy, groove (on), relish, revel (in); choose, cull, handpick, name, pick, select, single (out), take; covet, crave, desire, hanker (for or after), want, wish (for); bias, prejudice; incline (toward), tend (to); admire, appreciate, cherish, prize, treasure, value
Near Antonyms
disfavor, dislike, mislike; abhor, abominate, detest, hate, loathe; decline, refuse, reject, turn down; discard, jettison, throw away, throw out

PREFER Defined for English Language Learners



Definition of prefer for English Language Learners

  • : to like (someone or something) better than someone or something else

  • law : to make (a charge) against someone in a court of law

PREFER Defined for Kids


verb pre·fer \ pri-ˈfər \

Definition of prefer for Students

preferred; preferring
: to like better than another or others
  • She prefers chocolate ice cream.

Word Root of prefer

The Latin word ferre, meaning “to carry” or “to bring,” gives us the root fer. Words from the Latin ferre have something to do with carrying. To transfer is to carry across from one person, place, or condition to another. To confer is to bring something to someone in order to present it. To offer is to bring forth for another to accept or reject. To prefer is to carry a stronger liking for one over another.

Law Dictionary


transitive verb pre·fer \ pri-ˈfər \

legal Definition of prefer

preferred; preferring
1 : to give (a creditor or debt) priority or preference
  • any preferred charges such as child support or alimony
  • In re Smiley, 427 P.2d 179 (1967)
2 : to bring forward for determination; especially : to bring (a charge) against someone
  • the various means by which a grand jury might prefer charges
  • State v. Byrd, 399 S.E.2d 267 (1990)

Seen and Heard

What made you want to look up prefer? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!


to make or become suitable or fit

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Winter Words Quiz

  • fox-in-front-of-cabin-in-winter
  • Another word for ‘a person who travels to an area of warmth and sun, especially in winter’ is a:
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

Add Diction

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.


Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!