pre·​fer | \ pri-ˈfər How to pronounce prefer (audio) \
preferred; preferring

Definition of prefer

transitive verb

1 : to promote or advance to a rank or position
2 : to like better or best prefers sports to reading prefers to watch TV
3 : to give (a creditor) priority
4 archaic : to put or set forward or before someone : recommend
5 : to bring or lay against someone won't prefer charges
6 : to bring forward or lay before one for consideration

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Other Words from prefer

preferrer noun

Examples of prefer in a Sentence

Some people like vanilla ice cream, but I prefer chocolate. She tends to prefer small college campuses. I prefer this dictionary because of its helpful examples. Which one is the preferred alternative? What is the preferred pronunciation of her name?
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Recent Examples on the Web With different life experiences, cultures and histories, some Latinos prefer to use their demonym as a way to identify themselves and their place of origin. Abby Cruz And Cristina Corujo, ABC News, 15 Sep. 2021 While backyard and street versions of pickleball are available, many prefer playing on courts specifically built for the game. Richard A. Marini, San Antonio Express-News, 13 Sep. 2021 The Golden Gophers prefer a run-heavy approach with a big, veteran offensive line and are not afraid to put two or three tight ends on the field. Nathan Baird, cleveland, 10 Sep. 2021 In other words, T+L readers prefer to stay near the river, the Louvre, the Jardins des Tuileries, and the Arc de Triomphe on some of the city's ritziest streets, such as Rue Saint-Honoré, the home of our No. 2 hotel, Mandarin Oriental, Paris. Maya Kachroo-levine, Travel + Leisure, 8 Sep. 2021 Rather than the decolonisation of industries, some prefer to talk about dismantling systems; decentring whiteness, able-bodiedness, and anti-Blackness; or reclaiming traditional practices. Mirel Zaman,, 6 Sep. 2021 Different types of plant prefer different levels of moisture, too, while plants planted in a shady zone may be competing with tree roots for water. Tim Johnson,, 5 Sep. 2021 And the Taliban prefer isolation to roads and dams that could serve to loosen their control on the population. New York Times, 26 Aug. 2021 While gyms have reopened and regular attendees are exercising in them again, some prefer working out in the comfort of their home. Frederick Daso, Forbes, 2 Sep. 2021

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

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for prefer

Middle English preferren, from Anglo-French preferrer, from Latin praeferre to put before, prefer, from prae- + ferre to carry — more at bear

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Time Traveler for prefer

Time Traveler

The first known use of prefer was in the 14th century

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Last Updated

18 Sep 2021

Cite this Entry

“Prefer.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 22 Sep. 2021.

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More Definitions for prefer



English Language Learners Definition of prefer

: to like (someone or something) better than someone or something else
: to make (a charge) against someone in a court of law


pre·​fer | \ pri-ˈfər How to pronounce prefer (audio) \
preferred; preferring

Kids Definition of prefer

: to like better than another or others She prefers chocolate ice cream.


transitive verb
pre·​fer | \ pri-ˈfər How to pronounce prefer (audio) \
preferred; preferring

Legal Definition of prefer

1 : to give (a creditor or debt) priority or preference any preferred charges such as child support or alimonyIn re Smiley, 427 P.2d 179 (1967)
2 : to bring forward for determination especially : to bring (a charge) against someone the various means by which a grand jury might prefer charges State v. Byrd, 399 S.E.2d 267 (1990)

More from Merriam-Webster on prefer

Nglish: Translation of prefer for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of prefer for Arabic Speakers


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