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

But if kids of all ages prefer to learn this way then that’s how educational institutions that plan to be around will teach them. Adam Lashinsky, Fortune, "Why Harvard and Yale Students Can Skip This Computer Science Class—Data Sheet," 3 Sep. 2019 The Academy opened in 2013 to serve students in grades 9-12 that prefer a different learning setting or didn’t do well at the freshman or senior high schools., "Fairfield schools make room for middle schoolers with academy expansion," 26 Aug. 2019 Sara Haider, who works on building conversational experiments in twttr, says that 80 percent of users prefer the more focused experience to capital-T Twitter. Arielle Pardes, WIRED, "At Twitter, It Seems No One Can Hear the Screams," 15 Aug. 2019 Hathaway is relatively private about her family life, preferring to keep photos on social media geared towards her career and advocacy work — so this announcement is a pretty big deal. Kaitlin Reilly,, "Anne Hathaway Just Announced She's Pregnant In Rare Personal Instagram," 25 July 2019 Gatewood and Nix will compete for the starting job during fall camp, and one will emerge ahead of the Tigers’ opener against Oregon next month, with Malzahn preferring to name a starter sooner rather than later. Tom Green |,, "The biggest lessons veteran SEC quarterbacks learned from starting as freshmen," 25 July 2019 Young tiger sharks who had their stomachs pumped were found to prefer terrestrial songbirds to seabirds. Rafil Kroll-zaidi, Harper's magazine, "Findings," 22 July 2019 The jihadist group prefers kidnapping children to vaccinating them. The Economist, "Africa is on the verge of being declared polio-free," 24 Aug. 2019 The Kitchen prefers to flaunt the fact that its plot features women in power. Shirley Li, The Atlantic, "The Cheap Thrills of The Kitchen and Why Women Kill," 19 Aug. 2019

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 2019

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 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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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).


formidable, illustrious, or eminent

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