ref·​er·​ee | \ ˌre-fə-ˈrē How to pronounce referee (audio) \

Definition of referee

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : one to whom a thing is referred: such as
a : a person to whom a legal matter is referred for investigation and report or for settlement
b : a person who reviews a paper and especially a technical paper and recommends that it should or should not be published
c chiefly British : reference sense 4a
2 : a sports official usually having final authority in administering a game


refereed; refereeing

Definition of referee (Entry 2 of 2)

transitive verb

1 : to conduct (a match or game) as referee
2a : to arbitrate (something, such as a legal matter) as a judge or third party
b : to review (something, such as a technical paper) before publication

intransitive verb

: to act as a referee

Examples of referee in a Sentence

Noun served as the unofficial referee in disputes over the family business Verb She refereed the basketball game. He has refereed for several years now.
Recent Examples on the Web: Noun But that date was called off after Semerdjian and lawyers for Cisterra Development tried unsuccessfully to get a judge to order a third-party referee for all future depositions. Jeff Mcdonald, San Diego Union-Tribune, 15 Mar. 2022 Austria nearly grabbed an unlikely win in the 65th minute, but Marko Arnautovic's header was ruled out by the video assistant referee for offside. Becky Thompson, CNN, 26 June 2021 Joe Borgia, who retired from the N.B.A.’s referee operations department in 2020, also does commentary for Turner Sports. New York Times, 20 May 2022 Former football referee Keith Hackett oversaw some of the biggest games of English football. Exness Contributor, Forbes, 17 May 2022 When Russia invaded Ukraine in February, professional soccer referee Sergii Demianchuk instantly felt compelled to join the fight. oregonlive, 26 Apr. 2022 The game continued with one referee and two linesmen. Helene St. James, Detroit Free Press, 1 Dec. 2021 Not when the English game has just one Black referee and Black representation in the dug out in single figures. Matias Grez, Aleks Klosok And Darren Lewis, CNN, 14 Oct. 2020 Wardlow paid tribute to Shawn Michaels with his referee attire, rife with compression biker shorts. Alfred Konuwa, Forbes, 25 May 2022 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb O’Sullivan was allowed to start the eighth but the Cuban drove him back with another hard left and referee Benjy Esteves waved an end to the fight. Brian Mahoney, ajc, 29 May 2022 State officials have moved Thursday's meeting of the Board of State Canvassers to a room with larger capacity as board members prepare to referee a fraudulent signature scandal that is expected to cut the field of Republican candidates in half. Paul Egan, Detroit Free Press, 26 May 2022 Only slightly less annoying is the ex-referee the networks keep on standby who pops up to chime in on whether the call was correct, and roughly 98 percent of the time finds a way to agree with the call or rationalize why a bad one was made. Globe Staff,, 21 May 2022 There was trash-talking, fun banter, technical fouls and referee commentary. Damichael Cole, USA TODAY, 27 Apr. 2022 Across Massachusetts, hundreds of hockey games have been canceled this spring because no one was available to referee them, said Eugene Binda, who manages and assigns youth referees in the state. New York Times, 21 Apr. 2022 In Uttar Pradesh, India’s most populous state, the commission was forced to referee a bitter family feud in 2017 between Akhilesh Yadav, then-chief minister of the state, and his father over control of the regional Samajwadi Party. Rajesh Roy, WSJ, 6 Mar. 2022 After a brief delay, referee Alex Kemp announced the game was over. Schuyler Dixon, Chron, 16 Jan. 2022 Then referee Kelly Pfeifer stood on a chair and tried to give it a poke. Scott Horner, The Indianapolis Star, 18 Mar. 2022 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'referee.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

First Known Use of referee


1549, in the meaning defined at sense 1


1883, in the meaning defined at intransitive sense

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The first known use of referee was in 1549

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Last Updated

24 Jun 2022

Cite this Entry

“Referee.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 29 Jun. 2022.

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More Definitions for referee


ref·​er·​ee | \ ˌre-fə-ˈrē How to pronounce referee (audio) \

Kids Definition of referee

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : a sports official with final authority for conducting a game
2 : a person who is asked to settle a disagreement


refereed; refereeing

Kids Definition of referee (Entry 2 of 2)

: to act or be in charge of as referee I referee basketball games.


ref·​er·​ee | \ ˌre-fə-ˈrē How to pronounce referee (audio) \

Legal Definition of referee

: an officer appointed by a court or quasi-judicial body (as a workers' compensation board) to investigate a case, report findings, and often to make orders subject to review the board may affirm, reverse, modify or supplement the order of the refereeOregon Revised Statutes

More from Merriam-Webster on referee

Nglish: Translation of referee for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of referee for Arabic Speakers Encyclopedia article about referee


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