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

Yet Latin America’s web of 33 subregional preferential trade agreements, each with different rules, is giving diminishing returns. The Economist, "What AMLO portends for Latin America," 5 July 2018 What most bedevils the increasingly round-the-clock awards-season prediction machine is the preferential ballot reinstituted eight years ago when the best picture category expanded from five to up to ten nominees. Washington Post, "In Oscar best-picture race, an unprecedented nail biter," 28 Feb. 2018 America’s preferential treatment and diversity programs are in blatant disregard of Martin Luther King’s dream about judging people by their character instead of by the color of their skin. WSJ, "To What Extent, if Any, Should Race Count?," 18 Dec. 2018 The program is meant to encourage investment in low-income urban and rural communities by giving preferential tax treatment to those who build and invest there. Emily Stewart, Vox, "Ivanka Trump reportedly advocated for a tax break she and Jared Kushner could profit from," 12 Dec. 2018 Since 1971, Malays have enjoyed preferential treatment over their Chinese compatriots in everything from schooling and housing to government jobs and access to capital. Jason L. Riley, WSJ, "Racial Preferences Aren’t Only an American Problem," 11 Dec. 2018 The plaintiffs excluded recruited athletes, children of alumni, and children of faculty, arguing that these groups received preferential treatment. Chloe Foussianes, Town & Country, "A Timeline of the Harvard Affirmative Action Lawsuit," 2 Nov. 2018 Photo: Arthur Bondar for The Wall Street Journal To obtain private funds for the investment program, Mr. Putin has traded the expropriations of the early 2000s for carrots such as tax breaks, preferential loans and concession rights. Anatoly Kurmanaev, WSJ, "U.S. Sanctions Bring Kremlin, Russian Oligarchs Closer Together," 29 Nov. 2018 Countries giving preferential tax deals to big companies — particularly in the tech sector — have been a European Commission priority since 2014, and Vestager ruled in 2016 that Ireland would have to claw back €13 billion in unpaid taxes from Apple. Casey Newton, The Verge, "The fake video era of US politics has arrived on Twitter," 9 Nov. 2018

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

24 Apr 2019

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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).


one that collects or salvages junk

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