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 People here would prefer Idaho's conservative governance to the progressive/liberal current Oregon governance. Fox News, "Group petitions to join this state, blaming Oregon's liberal Democrats," 19 Feb. 2020 Edyta prefers unbleached flour, and Barbara likes King Arthur brand. Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "For this family, making paczki at home is tradition, flavored by a grandmother's knowhow," 18 Feb. 2020 Some are traditional; designers and favor parks, while actress Judith Light seeks out solace in theater and comedian Catherine Cohen prefers to weep at MoMA PS1. Emma Specter, Vogue, "The 25 Best Places to Cry in New York," 14 Feb. 2020 Whales and sharks generally prefer deeper waters, leaving humans as their primary threat. National Geographic, "Antillean manatee," 12 Feb. 2020 Elstov instead prefers to think about how time crystals can advance us technologically. Stav Dimitropoulos, Popular Mechanics, "Could These Crystals Help Us Travel Through Time?," 11 Feb. 2020 But while presidents have been cautious about their prayers, preferring generalities to specifics, keynote speakers – who are not announced until the morning of the event – are forthright. Diane Winston, The Conversation, "National Prayer Breakfast was a moment for leaders to show humility – Trump changed it," 7 Feb. 2020 Dave Chappelle said his daughter preferred it when the country had a black president rather than President Trump. John Gage, Washington Examiner, "Dave Chappelle: My daughter thinks 'whites are doing a terrible job' as president," 31 Jan. 2020 The owner preferred replicas to props from the films, which often don’t have the same display level of finish, the agents said. Katherine Clarke, WSJ, "The Force Is Strong Inside This L.A. Mansion With Star Wars-Themed Basement," 22 Jan. 2020

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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Statistics for prefer

Last Updated

24 Feb 2020

Cite this Entry

“Prefer.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 27 Feb. 2020.

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More Definitions for prefer


How to pronounce prefer (audio)

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

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