prof·​fer | \ ˈprä-fər How to pronounce proffer (audio) \
proffered; proffering\ ˈprä-​f(ə-​)riŋ How to pronounce proffer (audio) \

Definition of proffer

 (Entry 1 of 2)

transitive verb

: to present for acceptance : tender, offer

intransitive verb

US law
: to offer to take part in a proffer session decided that an indictment was unlikely and there was no reason to proffer



Definition of proffer (Entry 2 of 2)

2 US law : an offer made to a prosecutor by a person who is a subject of a criminal investigation to provide information in exchange for limited immunity or a plea bargaining agreement made a proffer in the hope of avoiding prosecution

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Synonyms for proffer

Synonyms: Verb

Synonyms: Noun

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Did You Know?


You may notice a striking similarity between "proffer" and "offer." Are the two words connected by etymology? Yes, indeed. "Proffer" comes from Anglo-French profrer, which itself is an alteration of the earlier "porofrir." That word in turn combines "por-" (which means "forth" and is related to our "pro-") and "offrir" (which means "to offer" and is an ancestor of our word offer). "Proffer" entered English in the 14th century. A more literary word than plain "offer," it adds or puts stress on the idea of voluntariness, spontaneity, or courtesy on the part of the one doing the tendering.

Examples of proffer in a Sentence

Verb He proffered advice on how best to proceed. proffered his assistance in helping the two sides reach a compromise Noun a generous proffer of his baronial estate for the charity gala
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Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Both endeavors proffer a trademark pretty, unapologetically feminine style in keeping with Hertz's identification as a proud Grandmillennial. Hadley Keller, House Beautiful, "Clary Bosbyshell Turns a Dark Tudor Home Into a Light, Bright Paradise for Self-Proclaimed Grandmillennial Emily Hertz," 12 Nov. 2020 Instead, publishers need more digital advertising competitors, so that news organizations are not forced to accept whatever crumbs the monopolists deign to proffer. Daniel Hanley, Wired, "Ad Mergers Won't Save Journalism. Strict Merger Rules Would," 10 Sep. 2020 Their campaigns proffer policies but are often devoid of passion. Robert B. Reich, Star Tribune, "Politics requires the ability both to govern and to fight," 17 Aug. 2020 The lack of direction led different districts to proffer different plans, resulting in some consternation from teachers and parents. Dave Boucher, Detroit Free Press, "Michigan Senate approves education compromise plan aimed at safe return to schools," 15 Aug. 2020 On the contrary, this is a fine example of a California wine made in sufficient quantity to be widely available to proffer excellent quality for the price. Dave Mcintyre, Washington Post, "Summer sipping doesn’t get much better than these five wines under $20," 26 June 2020 That may turn people away from simple solutions proffered by populists and protectionists, and towards more sustainable economics that benefit more people. The Economist, "Guest comment: Robin Varghese and Sarah Pray To neutralise populism, give people more control," 14 Jan. 2020 But divisions within the administration continued to widen; Mr. Bolton was opposed to using an argument proffered by administration lawyers to block the funding. Eric Lipton, New York Times, "Behind the Ukraine Aid Freeze: 84 Days of Conflict and Confusion," 29 Dec. 2019 Congress held hearings, but businessmen, academics, and bankers proffered only belt-tightening. Matt Stoller, Wired, "Covid-19 Will Mark the End of Affluence Politics," 25 Feb. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun After an initial proffer, a client typically provides a piece of evidence that allows authorities to determine their value; then a better deal is negotiated. Justine Van Der Leun, The New Republic, "“No Choice but to Do It”: Why Women Go to Prison," 17 Dec. 2020 Amaya's perspective is summarized in a proffer provided by his lawyers. Matthew Barakat, Star Tribune, "Officers: We gave 'chance after chance' before 2017 shooting," 15 Sep. 2020 The defendants' attorney objected throughout Kirk's testimony, which left Mays to continue his questioning under a proffer that isn't part of the evidence but would allow the opportunity for review of the objections on appeal. Noel Oman, Arkansas Online, "I-30 project ruling vowed within 'days'," 27 Aug. 2020 His attorney Ronald Frey said Wednesday that his client sat for six proffer sessions with federal prosecutors. Eric Heisig, cleveland, "Romanian hacker who defrauded Ohio residents sentenced to federal prison," 8 Jan. 2020 The people familiar with the matter reiterated the companies -- including McKesson -- have made an opening proffer of a settlement price. Bloomberg Wire, Dallas News, "McKesson, AmerisourceBergen among opiod distributors proposing $10 billion payment to settle state claims," 6 Aug. 2019 Be warned that etiquette having no objection to such proffers does not guarantee a welcoming reaction from the recipient. Judith Martin, The Mercury News, "Miss Manners: These moochers think they’re entitled to our pricey wine," 24 July 2019 Prosecutors argued such an informal immunity agreement, known as a proffer, would have been made in writing and no corroborating paperwork has been found. Fox News, "Man who jumped out of freezer and died was cold-case suspect," 6 Aug. 2018 According to the plea agreement, Mr. Cohen’s lawyers executed his proffer agreement with Mr. Mueller’s office on August 7, two weeks before his guilty plea in Manhattan. Rebecca Ballhaus, WSJ, "Michael Cohen’s Lawyers Ask for No Prison Time After Plea," 1 Dec. 2018

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


14th century, in the meaning defined at transitive sense


14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for proffer


Middle English profren, from Anglo-French profrer, proffrir, porofrir, from por- forth (from Latin pro-) + offrir to offer — more at pro-

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Time Traveler for proffer

Time Traveler

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

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Last Updated

25 Nov 2020

Cite this Entry

“Proffer.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 17 Jan. 2021.

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More Definitions for proffer


How to pronounce proffer (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of proffer

formal : to offer or give (something) to someone


prof·​fer | \ ˈprä-fər How to pronounce proffer (audio) \
proffered; proffering

Kids Definition of proffer

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