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

Morales had, for example, requested a special prosecutor in a case involving Lucas’s preferred candidate for sheriff. Andrew Cockburn, Harper's magazine, "Power of Attorney," 16 Sep. 2019 Mr Mnuchin says passing reform through Congress is his preferred option. The Economist, "Steven Mnuchin begins reforming America’s giant mortgage-guarantee firms," 14 Sep. 2019 The Department of Natural Resources introduced salmon to the rivers to control the alewives, which are salmon’s preferred prey. Jennifer Billock, Smithsonian, "Milwaukee’s Secret Salmon Runs," 10 Sep. 2019 Colored pencil is the medium preferred by Grayslake artist Phil Schorn. Myrna Petlicki,, "Get some culture at Mundelein Fine Arts Festival," 28 Aug. 2019 People of means have long preferred charity—and its institutionalized counterpart, philanthropy—to solidarity. Astra Taylor, The New Republic, "One for All," 26 Aug. 2019 This is a departing gift for Kiffin, for understands the need for the $1.4 million payday but would prefer to play mid-tier power conference teams like Minnesota (on the schedule for 2020), Purdue (2022) and Illinois (2023). Doug Lesmerises,, "An interview with Lane Kiffin, who brings FAU to Ohio State as part of his backward career: Doug Lesmerises," 26 Aug. 2019 On its face, the oath ensures that minor party supporters don’t get a say in which Democrat or Republican faces off against their preferred candidate. Josh Verges, Twin Cities, "MN Libertarians sue to get ‘downright silly’ nomination oath declared unconstitutional," 21 Aug. 2019 And potential pot consumers, who may not be familiar with all of these, may prefer one product while disliking another. Keith Phaneuf,, "New report says it’s difficult for states to predict revenue from legalized marijuana sales," 19 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

7 Oct 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).


suitable to be imparted to the public

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