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

Elon Musk has apparently created a new kind of school that prefers flamethrowers and robots to traditional classes. Don Reisinger, Fortune, "Inside Elon Musk's Ad Astra School Where Grades and Traditional Classes Don't Exist," 26 June 2018 Some users prefer it, feeling secure knowing that it won’t be affected by any other cannabis compounds. Meirav Devash, Allure, "Everything You Need to Know About CBD Oil in Beauty Products," 25 June 2018 Gibbons prefer life high up off the ground and are crippled by the loss of an aboral home. National Geographic, "Ancient Royal Tomb Yields Strange New Ape Species," 21 June 2018 Three others — Tish Powell, Richard Dunne and Corey Dixon — prefer a broader search and Councilwoman Carol Rauschenberger is undecided. Mike Danahey, Elgin Courier-News, "Elgin City Council divided on need for outside search for next police chief," 15 June 2018 Musk greatly prefers the private car to any form of mass transportation. Jeet Heer, The New Republic, "Elon Musk hates trains and will now build them for Chicago.," 14 June 2018 Murrelets spend much of their lives at sea, but prefer to nest in older-growth forest on the coasts between central California and Alaska, sometimes traveling as far as 50 miles inland to find a spot to lay their eggs. Kale Williams,, "State reverses itself, declines to list marbled murrelet as endangered," 8 June 2018 Certainly, a longer fight would have been preferred by the fans in attendance and national television audience for Showtime Championship Boxing. Clarence E. Hill Jr., star-telegram, "Jerry Jones gambled, won big with the fight; Errol Spence wants more fights in Dallas," 18 June 2018 Calves, piglets, lambs and other smaller livestock are preferred targets. Jordyn Hermani, Indianapolis Star, "Black vultures are eating cows alive. But it's difficult to legally kill the birds.," 13 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

3 Nov 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).


something that serves to warn or remind

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