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

China is so much more open now, such veterans say, lamenting that outsiders cannot see this, or prefer to focus on remaining differences with the West. The Economist, "Huawei is trying to solve a hard problem," 10 Aug. 2019 Many work for government agencies or corporations, while others operate out of home laboratories, preferring to just hack for fun. Zoe Schiffer, Vox, "The life of a white-hat hacker," 8 Aug. 2019 Shaw is left-handed and Bochy said the Giants preferred another right-handed outfielder with lefty hitter Stephen Vogt getting more time in left. Henry Schulman,, "Giants summon 50th player of 2019, outfielder Joey Rickard, with Steven Duggar to IL," 8 Aug. 2019 Some of us may desire CBD in our beauty products, while others prefer a vape to puff on. Sophie Saint Thomas, Allure, "Celebrate National CBD Day With All These Very Chill Sales," 8 Aug. 2019 Of the 42 voting members in the Burbank Teachers Assn., 28 were in favor of the reorganization, while 14 preferred the status quo. Andrew J. Campa, Burbank Leader, "Changes are in store for Luther Burbank Middle School’s class schedule," 8 Aug. 2019 Good importers will put preferred serving temperatures on the bottles. Jenn Harrisstaff Writer, Los Angeles Times, "A complete guide to sake from the sake guru at Ototo," 8 Aug. 2019 Teammate Chris Smalling had been of interest to Everton previously, but it's thought an offer to take him on loan was knocked back - as United would prefer to part company with Rojo instead., "Defender Arrives At Carrington With Agent To Complete Deadline Day Move," 8 Aug. 2019 Although most users would prefer longer-lasting battery life, a 30 minute charge on the Note10+ can now give the device enough fuel to get you through the day. Samantha Kelly, CNN, "Samsung's Note10 finally bids farewell to the headphone jack," 7 Aug. 2019

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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Statistics for prefer

Last Updated

11 Aug 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for prefer

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

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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
law : 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.
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)

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More from Merriam-Webster on prefer

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for prefer

Spanish Central: Translation of prefer

Nglish: Translation of prefer for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of prefer for Arabic Speakers

Comments on prefer

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


to shake or wave menacingly

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