pre·fer | \ pri-ˈfər \
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

There is little gender gap on the question, with 59 percent of men and 57 percent of women preferring to detain immigrant families together until their case is resolved. Scott Clement, Washington Post, "The public rejected Trump’s child-separation policy, but a majority supports his push to detain families until court hearings," 13 July 2018 Fox Executive Chairman Rupert Murdoch and his sons view Comcast with wariness after years of tough dealings with the cable giant and would prefer to own stock in a combined Disney-Fox, The Wall Street Journal has previously reported. Shalini Ramachandran, WSJ, "Comcast’s Pursuit of Fox Just Got Tougher," 13 July 2018 Here’s the take-away: by a 48-40 percent margin, voters prefer the Democratic candidate in their congressional district over the Republican. Democrats were up 48-39 percent last month. Dana Blanton, Fox News, "Fox News Poll: Democrats ahead in election enthusiasm, interest -- and the vote," 12 July 2018 Tordini typically opts for more minimal, clean and classic looks, while Ambrosio prefers pieces that are bold and daring. Lindzi Scharf,, "Attico designers take inspiration from 'Grey Gardens' as they build on their 'modern vintage' approach," 12 July 2018 Spinning reels are the easiest starting reel, though many bass anglers prefer baitcaster reels. Mark Blythe,, "Fishing 101: Learn how to start fishing in Central Florida," 11 July 2018 For someone who seems to prefer simple styles, Camilla is clearly a fan of polka dots, and has worn a fair share of the pattern over the years. Kara Thompson, Town & Country, "Camilla, the Duchess of Cornwall Sat Courtside at Wimbledon Today," 11 July 2018 The Vikings chose to intentionally walk West Virginia recruit Matt McCormick three times Wednesday, preferring to take their chances with Dornbos. Pat Disabato, Daily Southtown, "Cleaning up: Matt Dornbos drives in three runs as St. Laurence tops H-F for summer baseball regional title," 11 July 2018 In private, Kremlin insiders say that Moscow prefers dealing with Republican presidents, who ordinarily prize realpolitik above liberal democratic values. Anna Arutunyan, Time, "No Matter What Happens in Helsinki, Putin Has Already Won," 10 July 2018

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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Statistics for prefer

Last Updated

8 Sep 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for prefer

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

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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 \
preferred; preferring

Kids Definition of prefer

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

pre·fer | \ pri-ˈfər \
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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More from Merriam-Webster on prefer

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for prefer

Spanish Central: Translation of prefer

Nglish: Translation of prefer for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of prefer for Arabic Speakers

Comments on prefer

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


the setting in which something occurs

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