pref·​er·​ence | \ ˈpre-fərn(t)s How to pronounce preference (audio) , 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

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Synonyms for preference


darling, fave, favorite, minion, pet, speed

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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.”
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Recent Examples on the Web

Get the recipe: Minty limeade (feel free to add sugar to your preference) Postcard from Cape Cod Carla, Claire, Andy, Brad, Rick, Molly, and Christina went clamming while shooting [REDACTED] in Cape Cod this week. Alex Beggs, Bon Appétit, "Make Minty Limeade This Weekend (Tequila Optional)," 10 Aug. 2019 But some people excuse their food commentary as sharing their personal preferences. Lizz Schumer, Good Housekeeping, "It's Time to Stop Commenting on Your Coworker's Lunch," 8 Aug. 2019 Trump vote that would divulge its preferences only online — not in live interviews. Nate Cohn, New York Times, "Don’t Assume Trump’s Approval Rating Can’t Climb Higher. It Already Has.," 7 Aug. 2019 By the time his first full season came around, his preference for quick, high-pressing football had swept the nation, and the trophies began flooding in., "Jose Mourinho: The 'Special One' Who Shattered Records All Over Europe," 6 Aug. 2019 District staff members added language giving students a choice on cap and gown selection, based on their gender preference. Andrew J. Campa, Glendale News-Press, "Glendale Unified’s cap and gown unofficial gender policy may become policy," 23 July 2019 His preference for state control over market forces in running the economy, however, reportedly led to him losing influence as Premier to his lieutenant Zhu Rongji, handpicked by Deng to resurrect stalled economic reforms and market liberalization. Steven Jiang, CNN, "Li Peng, hardline Chinese premier who backed Tiananmen massacre, dies at 91," 23 July 2019 First, Zaidi said that cutting Holland was partly in deference to Bochy’s managing style, his preference for using his bullpen inning-by-inning rather than hitter-by-hitter. Scott Ostler,, "Bruce Bochy sentiment powering Giants’ ecosystem," 21 July 2019 Goodell also reiterated the league's preference in pushing for the Bills to build a new stadium to replace their existing facility, which was built in 1973. John Wawrow,, "Roger Goodell reiterates desire to shorten the NFL's 4-game preseason," 3 June 2019

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.

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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

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Statistics for preference

Last Updated

13 Aug 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for preference

The first known use of preference was in 1673

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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 How to pronounce preference (audio) , 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 How to pronounce preference (audio) \

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

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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).


a usually brief trip or an expedition

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