pref·er·ence | \ ˈpre-fərn(t)s , ˈpre-f(ə-)rən(t)s \

Definition of preference 

1a : the act of preferring : the state of being preferred

b : the power or opportunity of choosing

2 : one that is preferred

3 : the act, fact, or principle of giving advantages to some over others

4 : priority in the right to demand and receive satisfaction of an obligation

5 : orientation sense 2b sexual preference

Keep scrolling for more

Choose the Right Synonym for preference

choice, option, alternative, preference, selection, election mean the act or opportunity of choosing or the thing chosen. choice suggests the opportunity or privilege of choosing freely. freedom of choice option implies a power to choose that is specifically granted or guaranteed. the option of paying now or later alternative implies a need to choose one and reject another possibility. equally attractive alternatives preference suggests a choice guided by one's judgment or predilections. a preference for cool weather selection implies a range of choice. a varied selection of furniture election implies an end or purpose which requires exercise of judgment. doing a tax return forces certain elections on you

Examples of preference in a Sentence

Car buyers have recently shown a growing preference for smaller vehicles. When it comes to music, everyone has their own preferences. Some people like small cars and some people like big cars. It's a matter of personal preference. She listed her favorite restaurants in order of preference. He has tried not to show preference in giving out jobs. The policy of the school is to give preference to minority candidates. “We could go to an Italian or Chinese restaurant tonight. What's your preference?” “Either one is fine. I don't have a preference.”
See More

Recent Examples on the Web

But the cost and the type of adventure depends mostly on the preferences of local ambassadors and members. Lizzie Stokes, San Antonio Express-News, "New San Antonio group leads members on women-only adventures," 9 July 2018 In private conversations, Mr. Trump has been asking about the confirmation prospects of candidates and the preferences of different constituency groups. Peter Nicholas, WSJ, "Trump Says Abortion Rights Could Be Decided by States," 1 July 2018 And the age-old preference of fishermen to keep walleyes remains high. Paul A. Smith, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Smith: Can the walleye population rebound in McDermott Lake if bass and panfish are reduced?," 30 June 2018 The North American preference is for more customization. Michele Lerner, sacbee, "Prefabs’ appeal is going up quickly," 29 June 2018 Nelson Peltz, an investor waging a monthslong campaign to gain a board seat, has criticized the company as not moving fast enough to adapt to the preferences of younger shoppers. Jeff Green,, "World’s biggest advertiser P&G to hire more female directors," 18 June 2018 The architecture is a byproduct of the stylistic preferences and engineering constraints of the 1860s. Jonathon Keats, Discover Magazine, "Science of Music," 15 June 2018 Gong toned down the inspiration, a volcanic Sichuan creation, to fit the preferences of his native Shanghai. Todd A. Price,, "Luvi's chef tells a deliciously beautiful story: First look review," 22 May 2018 In 2015, BIG’s design replaced Norman Foster’s for 2 World Trade Center, in part at the preference of James Murdoch, whose family’s companies 21st Century Fox and News Corp were going to be the anchor tenants. Kyle Chayka, The New Republic, "From architect to tastemaker, Bjarke Ingels is designing the future.," 2 May 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'preference.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

See More

First Known Use of preference

1673, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for preference

Middle English preferraunce, from Middle French preferance, from Medieval Latin praeferentia, from Latin praeferent-, praeferens, present participle of praeferre

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about preference

Share preference

Phrases Related to preference

in preference to

Statistics for preference

Last Updated

10 Sep 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for preference

The first known use of preference was in 1673

See more words from the same year

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for preference



English Language Learners Definition of preference

: a feeling of liking or wanting one person or thing more than another person or thing

: an advantage that is given to some people or things and not to others

: something that is liked or wanted more than another thing : something that is preferred


pref·er·ence | \ ˈpre-fə-rəns , ˈpref-rəns \

Kids Definition of preference

1 : a choosing of or special liking for one person or thing rather than another or others Buyers are showing a preference for small cars.

2 : the power or chance to choose : choice I gave him his preference.

3 : a person or thing that is liked or wanted more than another My preference is to travel by train.


pref·er·ence | \ ˈpre-frəns, -fə-rəns \

Legal Definition of preference 

1 : the right to prior payment of a debt with preference over the creditors of the heirs or legateesLouisiana Civil Code

2 : the transfer of an insolvent debtor's interest in property to a creditor for an earlier debt that gives the creditor more than the creditor would otherwise receive (as under a bankruptcy settlement)

called also voidable preference

— compare antecedent debt at debt, fraudulent conveyance, general assignment at assignment

Note: Preferences can be voided by a bankruptcy trustee because they diminish the bankruptcy estate out of which other creditors will be paid. Preferences must be made during a period (as 90 days before the date of filing a bankruptcy petition) established by bankruptcy law in order to be voidable. Perfection or grant of a security interest during this period is also a preference. The bankruptcy law states exceptions under which payments to creditors are not voidable preferences.

3 : priority

Keep scrolling for more

Comments on preference

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


occurring twice a year or every two years

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Name that Food Quiz

Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

Word Winder's CrossWinder

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.


Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!