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

LePage said in a radio interview yesterday, referring to the case. James Hohmann, Washington Post, "The Daily 202: GOP candidates caught in a bind on Medicaid," 13 July 2018 But in her letter to IndyStar, Candelaria Reardon refers to five victims. Kaitlin Lange, Indianapolis Star, "'I am not anonymous': Lawmaker and Senate employee go public with Curtis Hill allegation," 6 July 2018 The proceeds of the kippahs (Hebrew word for skullcap; referred to in Yiddish as yarmulke), benefit the construction of Chabad at Midtown's new Chabad Jewish Center which will be located in the Midtown Miami, Wynwood Art District and Edgewater area. Sergio Carmona, Jewish Journal, "Pop artist, Chabad partner for kippahs project," 29 June 2018 Giesen said his client has texts and emails that show the relationship was consensual, and that police investigated and declined to refer any charges to prosecutors. Bruce Vielmetti, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Lawrence University sued over campus sex assault procedures," 13 July 2018 Strzok appeared to refer to derogatory statements Trump made about the family of U.S. Army Capt. Andrew O'reilly, Fox News, "Gowdy slams Strzok: 'I don't give a damn what you appreciate'," 13 July 2018 The European Court of Justice is set to hear one case challenging the government’s judicial reforms, with another case likely to be referred in coming months. Drew Hinshaw, WSJ, "Poland Steps Up Supreme Court Purge," 13 July 2018 After running through the story from the novel, season two of the series took off into uncharted waters, where viewers had no source material to refer to for spoilers. Tony Bravo,, "Swearing off the dystopia of ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ (spoilers included)," 12 July 2018 Well, the Drug Enforcement Administration this month released a list of slang terms commonly used to refer to various street drugs, and their entry for marijuana was hundreds of words deep. David Selig,, "These are all marijuana slang words, according to the DEA," 12 July 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

7 Sep 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

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to make amends

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