pref·​er·​en·​tial | \ ˌpre-fə-ˈren(t)-shəl How to pronounce preferential (audio) \

Definition of preferential

1 : showing preference
2 : employing or creating a preference in trade relations
3 : designed to permit expression of preference among candidates a preferential primary
4 : giving preference especially in hiring to union members a preferential shop

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Other Words from preferential

preferentially \ ˌpre-​fə-​ˈren(t)-​sh(ə-​)lē How to pronounce preferentially (audio) \ adverb

Examples of preferential in a Sentence

powerful people who demand preferential treatment from politicians

Recent Examples on the Web

Friday, upholding the Justice Department’s decision to give preferential treatment in awarding community policing grants to cities that cooperate with immigration authorities. Washington Post, "Appeals court gives Trump a win in sanctuary city case," 13 July 2019 Policy Countries such as Cambodia, India, Indonesia and Thailand are given preferential treatment by the U.S. in trade to help developing countries grow their economies. Yan Zhang, USA TODAY, "Are tariffs against China bringing factories and jobs back to the U.S.?," 12 July 2019 Some 200 people were killed as longstanding local grievances—over preferential treatment for people from the Han majority who migrated to Xinjiang—boiled over. Patrick Dehahn, Quartz, "More than 1 million Muslims are detained in China—but how did we get that number?," 4 July 2019 Morris gave preferential treatment to female patients, federal authorities said. Ashley Remkus |,, "Huntsville area doctor traded pills for sex, federal lawmen say," 21 June 2019 Pressley picked first and selected Brady, the only boy of the group and the member who's currently causing the most drama among the moms for his seemingly preferential treatment from Abby. Mackenzie Dunn, Woman's Day, "Abby Lee Miller Forced Dancers to Pick Their Duet Partners In This Week's 'Dance Moms'," 19 June 2019 Until recently, preferential treatment for particular parts of the economy would have been a matter for politicians alone. James Mackintosh, WSJ, "The Downsides of Central Bank Mission Creep," 18 June 2019 Some legal analysts said Manafort seemed to be getting preferential treatment. The Washington Post, The Mercury News, "Manafort moved to facility that used to hold El Chapo," 18 June 2019 Likewise, the deputy could be accused of giving preferential treatment to persons who are dressed more formally. Michael Mccann,, "The Potential Fallout From Masai Ujiri's Finals Run-In With a Sheriff's Deputy," 14 June 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'preferential.' 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 preferential

1849, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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Statistics for preferential

Last Updated

17 Jul 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for preferential

The first known use of preferential was in 1849

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More Definitions for preferential



English Language Learners Definition of preferential

: giving an advantage to a particular person or group


pref·​e·​ren·​tial | \ ˌpre-fə-ˈren-chəl How to pronounce preferential (audio) \

Legal Definition of preferential

1 : of or constituting a preference a preferential transfer
2 : giving preference to union members especially in hiring a preferential shop
3 : showing preference these creditors may obtain preferential treatment

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More from Merriam-Webster on preferential

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with preferential

Spanish Central: Translation of preferential

Nglish: Translation of preferential for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of preferential for Arabic Speakers

Comments on preferential

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


to complain fretfully

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