pre·​fer | \ pri-ˈfər How to pronounce prefer (audio) \
preferred; preferring

Definition of prefer

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

Other Words from prefer

preferrer noun

Examples of prefer in a Sentence

Some people like vanilla ice cream, but I prefer chocolate. She tends to prefer small college campuses. I prefer this dictionary because of its helpful examples. Which one is the preferred alternative? What is the preferred pronunciation of her name?
Recent Examples on the Web Some people have no problem taking a pill every day, while others would prefer to very rarely have to think about their birth control. Casey Gueren, SELF, 26 July 2022 The question is whether the Hall would prefer to give the older players another look and let the din around the Troublesome Trio cool off a bit. Peter Abraham,, 23 July 2022 If these companies make their own batteries, BatterySavers is at a disadvantage because many big firms prefer working in-house to maintain control and keep costs down. Adam Popescu, Popular Mechanics, 18 July 2022 This to-do list lays out the truth: Some are motivated by beer and wine, while others prefer something bubbly or fruity. Alyssa Gautieri, Good Housekeeping, 14 July 2022 Some people like to tell stories about personal experiences, while others prefer stories with a moral or a lesson. Scott Baradell, Forbes, 7 July 2022 While working adults prefer online-only courses given the flexibility involved, children need in-person hand-holding. Ananya Bhattacharya, Quartz, 27 June 2022 Rookies should stick to the thrills of Facetime while more seasoned climbers might prefer the Nose, which is loosely based on the route at Yosemite’s El Capitan. Sal Vaglica, USA TODAY, 18 June 2022 Some people get most of their heads-down work done at the beginning of the week, says Saunders, while others prefer to have meetings and interactions earlier in the week to clear their schedule closer to the weekend. Alicia Adamczyk, Fortune, 9 June 2022 See More

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.

First Known Use of prefer

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for prefer

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

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Time Traveler for prefer

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The first known use of prefer was in the 14th century

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Last Updated

1 Aug 2022

Cite this Entry

“Prefer.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 9 Aug. 2022.

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More Definitions for prefer


pre·​fer | \ pri-ˈfər How to pronounce prefer (audio) \
preferred; preferring

Kids Definition of prefer

: to like better than another or others She prefers chocolate ice cream.


transitive verb
pre·​fer | \ pri-ˈfər How to pronounce prefer (audio) \
preferred; preferring

Legal Definition of prefer

1 : to give (a creditor or debt) priority or preference any preferred charges such as child support or alimonyIn 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)

More from Merriam-Webster on prefer

Nglish: Translation of prefer for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of prefer for Arabic Speakers


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