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

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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?
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Recent Examples on the Web One is that their benefactors might prefer to underwrite propaganda that broadly supports liberal capitalism rather than specifically progressivism. Alex Pareene, The New Republic, 12 June 2021 And according to Strada Education Network, 60% of Americans – understandably impatient after a year-long pandemic – now prefer short-term training to degree programs. Ryan Craig, Forbes, 11 June 2021 There are plenty of things Alabamians prefer over the COVID-19 vaccines. Ramsey Archibald |, al, 11 June 2021 Paul Cappiello, the executive director of the Yew Dell Botanical Gardens in Crestwood, Kentucky, has a few hypotheses as to why the insects prefer certain areas around the city. Ayana Archie, The Courier-Journal, 10 June 2021 Former Justice Department officials said the department’s recent actions signal that in the face of partisan pressure, its leaders prefer consistency and institutional considerations over political ones. Sadie Gurman, WSJ, 9 June 2021 Rather, data show many Minnesotans prefer pickups and SUVs, vehicle types that would be limited if the governor's rule goes into effect. Lance Klatt, Star Tribune, 9 June 2021 But many travelers, especially infrequent flyers and those taking international trips for the first time during the pandemic, prefer to talk to a representative, Rath said. Dawn Gilbertson, USA TODAY, 8 June 2021 One 2015 study found implicit bias in favor of straight patients was pervasive among heterosexual health care providers, who tended to prefer straight male patients over everyone else. Virginia Sole-smith,, 7 June 2021

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.

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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

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for prefer

Last Updated

14 Jun 2021

Cite this Entry

“Prefer.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 23 Jun. 2021.

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More Definitions for prefer



English Language Learners Definition of prefer

: to like (someone or something) better than someone or something else
law : to make (a charge) against someone in a court of law


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.
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)


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