\ ˈref How to pronounce ref (audio) \

Definition of ref

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: a referee in a game or sport

Definition of ref (Entry 2 of 2)

1 reference
2 refunding

Examples of ref in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

While the ref tried to get Anderson out of the ring, Gallows attacked, hanging Ricochet on the top turnbuckle. Aaron Oster,, "Brock Lesnar cashes in at ‘Extreme Rules’ to become Universal Champion again," 15 July 2019 The refs are amazing and help the kids out in the games. Gary Curreri,, "Blue Wolves win Coral Springs Basketball Club girls title," 27 June 2019 Similarly, in the absence of VAR, refs aren’t likely to call a minor-looking infraction in the box at crucial stages of a game — sort of like NBA officials calling only the most egregious fouls in the desperate final moments. Bruce Jenkins,, "World Cup’s VAR replay system tarnishes a great event," 25 June 2019 Grumbling about a displeasing puzzle, like yelling at the ref from the bleacher seats or critiquing celebrity ball gowns at the Oscars, is, for a solver, all part of the fun. Helen Rosner, The New Yorker, "The Art and Politics of Crosswords," 21 June 2019 The refs have a very tough job with how fast plays happen. Curtis Pashelka, The Mercury News, "NHL responds to playoff controversy, expands video review," 21 June 2019 So the refs wanted to double-check LeBron's foot-placement. Andrew Sharp,, "An Inexplicable Calls Stains a Legendary NBA Finals Thriller," 1 June 2018 Just in case, the refs might want to practice catching balls thrown at them from half court. Bud Shaw,, "The Browns could offer Alex Smith a chance to take them up, up and away -- Bud Shaw's Spinoffs," 30 Jan. 2018 Then, after another stop, Vital got to the line and made both — with a long conference by the refs that resulted in a 19-second adjustment to the game clock. Dom Amore,, "Tulsa Burns UConn Men In Second Half, Wins 73-71," 16 Feb. 2018

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


1890, in the meaning defined above

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Statistics for ref

Last Updated

22 Jul 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for ref

The first known use of ref was in 1890

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More Definitions for ref



English Language Learners Definition of ref

informal : a referee in a game or sport


\ ˈref How to pronounce ref (audio) \

Kids Definition of ref

More from Merriam-Webster on ref

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with ref

Spanish Central: Translation of ref

Comments on ref

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


to complain fretfully

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