noun pref·er·ence \ ˈpre-fərn(t)s , ˈpre-f(ə-)rən(t)s \
|Updated on: 16 Jul 2018

Definition of preference

1 a : 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 2b
  • sexual preference

Examples of preference in a Sentence

  1. Car buyers have recently shown a growing preference for smaller vehicles.

  2. When it comes to music, everyone has their own preferences.

  3. Some people like small cars and some people like big cars. It's a matter of personal preference.

  4. She listed her favorite restaurants in order of preference.

  5. He has tried not to show preference in giving out jobs.

  6. The policy of the school is to give preference to minority candidates.

  7. “We could go to an Italian or Chinese restaurant tonight. What's your preference?” “Either one is fine. I don't have a preference.”

Recent Examples of preference from the Web

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.

Origin and Etymology of preference

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

Synonym Discussion of 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

PREFERENCE Defined for English Language Learners


Definition of preference for English Language Learners

  • : 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

PREFERENCE Defined for Kids


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

Definition of preference for Students

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.

Law Dictionary


noun 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 legatees
  • Louisiana 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

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