re·fer | \ri-ˈfər \
referred; referring

Definition of refer 

transitive verb

1a(1) : to think of, regard, or classify within a general category or group

(2) : to explain in terms of a general cause

b : to allot to a particular place, stage, or period

c : to regard as coming from or located in a specific area

2a : to send or direct for treatment, aid, information, or decision refer a patient to a specialist refer a bill back to a committee

b : to direct for testimony or guaranty as to character or ability

intransitive verb

1a : to have relation or connection : relate

b : to direct attention usually by clear and specific mention no one referred to yesterday's quarrel

2 : to have recourse : glance briefly referred frequently to his notes while speaking

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Other Words from refer

referable \ˈre-f(ə-)rə-bəl, ri-ˈfər-ə- \ adjective
referrer \ri-ˈfər-ər \ noun

Examples of refer in a Sentence

How can doctors refer patients for treatment without examining them first? Most of the patients we see here were referred by other doctors.

Recent Examples on the Web

Milwaukee police said Mann was in custody Thursday and charges will be referred to prosecutors in the coming days. Ashley Luthern, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Milwaukee police arrest person of interest in case of baby boy found abandoned in car seat," 12 July 2018 Sacramento County District Attorney Anne Marie Schubert did not prosecute any hate crimes in 2017, though seven were referred to her office, according to the state report. Anita Chabria And Michael Finch Ii, sacbee, "Hate crimes in Sacramento County have increased by 66 percent since 2014," 12 July 2018 The plaintiffs are all students who are referred to by their initials in the suit, which doesn’t identify Cruz by name. Rafael Olmeda,, "Cops should have stopped Parkland shooter, students say in lawsuit," 11 July 2018 Doctors blame the infection on a strain of bacteria called Vibrio vulnificus, which is sometimes referred to as flesh-eating bacteria. Amanda Macmillan,, "Vibrio Vulnificus: What to Know About The 'Flesh-Eating Bacteria' That Has a New Jersey Man Fighting For His Life," 10 July 2018 Still, the way Williams—and other female athletes—are referred to throughout Wimbledon draws attention to their marriages instead of their performances and merits as elite athletes. Halie Lesavage, Glamour, "Wimbledon Defines Serena Williams—and All Female Competitors—By Their Marital Status," 5 July 2018 For these types of skin issues, a dermatologist would refer you to a specialist in treating that specific cancer. Macaela Mackenzie, Allure, "Skin Cancer: A Visual Guide to Identifying Warning Signs on Your Body," 2 July 2018 Todd Portune, president of the Hamilton County Board of Commissioners, presented the proposal Monday and referred it to county staff to make a recommendation. Scott Wartman,, "Maslow's Army: Hamilton County considers allowing land in front of Freedom Center for group to help homeless," 2 July 2018 Since 2008, the agency says more than 485 children have been referred to DCF as possible victims, but most experts believe the actual number of victims is far higher. Daniela Altimari,, "From Trauma to Activism: Former Victim of Sex Trafficking Now Advocates To End It," 28 June 2018

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

14th century, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1a(1)

History and Etymology for refer

Middle English referren, from Anglo-French referer, referir, from Latin referre to bring back, report, refer, from re- + ferre to carry — more at bear

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Phrases Related to refer

refer to

refer to as

Statistics for refer

Last Updated

5 Oct 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for refer

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

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More Definitions for refer



English Language Learners Definition of refer

: to send (someone or something) to a particular person or place for treatment, help, advice, etc.


re·fer | \ri-ˈfər \
referred; referring

Kids Definition of refer

1 : to look at for information She kept referring to her notes.

2 : to send or direct to some person or place for treatment, aid, information, or decision The patient was referred to a specialist.

3 : to call attention Jeremy wondered what had possessed him to refer to Prince Brat as his friend.— Sid Fleischman, The Whipping Boy

4 : to mention (something) in talking or writing

re·fer | \ri-ˈfər \
referred; referring

Medical Definition of refer 

1 : to regard as coming from or localized in a certain portion of the body or of space pain of appendicitis may be referred to any region of the abdomenEncyclopedia Americana

2 : to send or direct for diagnosis or treatment refer a patient to a specialist

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re·fer | \ri-ˈfər \
referred; referring

Legal Definition of refer 

: to send or direct for treatment, aid, service, information, or decision referred the debtor to an attorney with expertise in bankruptcy specifically : commit sense 1c

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More from Merriam-Webster on refer

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for refer

Spanish Central: Translation of refer

Nglish: Translation of refer for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of refer for Arabic Speakers

Comments on refer

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


to reject or criticize sharply

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