verb pre·fer \ pri-ˈfər \
Updated on: 11 Mar 2018

Definition of prefer

preferred; preferring
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 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)

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mournful or dismal

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