reference

noun
ref·​er·​ence | \ ˈre-fərn(t)s How to pronounce reference (audio) , ˈre-f(ə-)rən(t)s \

Essential Meaning of reference

1 : the act of mentioning something in speech or in writing : the act of referring to something or someone references to an earlier event Bob's nickname was "Elvis," a reference to the way he styled his hair. [=people called Bob "Elvis" because he styled his hair in the same way Elvis Presley did] See More ExamplesShe made reference to our agreement. [=she mentioned our agreement] The numbers were calculated by reference to the most recent census.Hide
2 : the act of looking at or in something for information The report was filed for future reference. [=so that people could look at it later] Reference to a map will make the position clear.
3 : a person who can be asked for information about another person's character, abilities, etc. She listed her former teacher as a reference when she applied for the job.

Full Definition of reference

 (Entry 1 of 3)

1 : the act of referring or consulting
2 : a bearing on a matter : relation in reference to your recent letter
3 : something that refers: such as
b : something (such as a sign or indication) that refers a reader or consulter to another source of information (such as a book or passage)
c : consultation of sources of information
4 : one referred to or consulted: such as
a : a person to whom inquiries as to character or ability can be made
b : a statement of the qualifications of a person seeking employment or appointment given by someone familiar with the person
c(1) : a source of information (such as a book or passage) to which a reader or consulter is referred
(2) : a work (such as a dictionary or encyclopedia) containing useful facts or information

reference

adjective

Definition of reference (Entry 2 of 3)

: used or usable for reference especially : constituting a standard for measuring or constructing

reference

verb
referenced; referencing

Definition of reference (Entry 3 of 3)

transitive verb

1a : to supply with references
b : to cite in or as a reference
2 : to put in a form (such as a table) adapted to easy reference

Synonyms for reference

Synonyms: Noun

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Examples of reference in a Sentence

Noun references to an earlier event The numbers were calculated by reference to the most recent census. Reference to a map will make the position clear. She listed her former teacher as a reference when she applied for the job. Her former teacher gave her a reference when she applied for the job. Her teacher gave her a letter of reference. Adjective a list of reference materials Verb The book references many other authors who have written on this topic.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun In a reference to the new song, Lopez shared a selfie of herself heading to the awards show. Tomás Mier, PEOPLE.com, 21 Nov. 2021 This was perhaps in reference to the Communist Party’s sixth plenum which coincided with the second week of COP26 (and resulted in a historic consolidation of power for Xi). Aurora Almendral, Quartz, 15 Nov. 2021 And that’s not even in reference to the blood and gore, of which there are copious amounts. Bill Goodykoontz, Detroit Free Press, 29 Oct. 2021 An officer was flagged down in reference to an assault. Allana Haynes, baltimoresun.com, 15 Nov. 2021 This data is the most interesting in reference to the A.30 variant. William A. Haseltine, Forbes, 12 Nov. 2021 And that’s not even in reference to the blood and gore, of which there are copious amounts. Bill Goodykoontz, Detroit Free Press, 29 Oct. 2021 And that’s not even in reference to the blood and gore, of which there are copious amounts. Bill Goodykoontz, The Arizona Republic, 27 Oct. 2021 The comment was in reference to the COVID-19 pandemic that prompted widespread quarantines and the cancellation of numerous social gatherings, including the 2020 charity golf event. Lorenzo Reyes, USA TODAY, 26 Oct. 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective State officials regularly cross-reference voting records with BMV records, which list someone’s citizenship status on their driver’s license. Andrew J. Tobias, cleveland, 12 July 2021 This process sees them cross-reference lists of the dead from the Washington Department of Health and the Social Security Administration. Tim Gruver, Washington Examiner, 11 Dec. 2020 The access could help OFAC cross-reference information with other investigators, including those in the U.S. intelligence community, said Mr. Lorber, a former senior adviser to the Treasury’s undersecretary for terrorism and financial intelligence. Jack Hagel, WSJ, 7 Sep. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb But at no point does the plan reference the threat of a crowd surge or how to manage a crush towards the stage. CBS News, 9 Nov. 2021 Manoogian's lawyer declined to comment about why the police report does not reference the specific allegation of abuse outlined in her client's statement to a judge. Dave Boucher, Detroit Free Press, 28 Oct. 2021 Better Act, according to The Arizona Republic – though the report did not specifically reference the legislation. Julia Musto, Fox News, 16 Oct. 2021 Prosecutors said the deception meant an FAA document did not reference the system, and neither did airplane manuals and pilot-training materials. NBC News, 15 Oct. 2021 If the form doesn’t specifically reference data deletion, that’s okay. Washington Post, 26 Sep. 2021 McCarthy's resignation letter did not reference FirstEnergy or House Bill 6. Jessie Balmert, The Enquirer, 24 Sep. 2021 The energetic design is a nod to pop art, for which the artist is known for, while the geometric patterns reference the sporty 8 Series Gran Coupé’s contours. Nargess Banks, Forbes, 4 Sep. 2021 Tuck also posted a second video on his YouTube channel that did not directly reference the Jan. 6 riot or his arrest. Grace Toohey, orlandosentinel.com, 27 Aug. 2021

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

Noun

1579, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Adjective

1856, in the meaning defined above

Verb

1876, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

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Time Traveler for reference

Time Traveler

The first known use of reference was in 1579

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Dictionary Entries Near reference

referee

reference

reference book

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Statistics for reference

Last Updated

30 Nov 2021

Cite this Entry

“Reference.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/reference. Accessed 30 Nov. 2021.

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More Definitions for reference

reference

noun
ref·​er·​ence | \ ˈre-fə-rəns How to pronounce reference (audio) , ˈref-rəns \

Kids Definition of reference

1 : the act of looking at or in something for information Reference to a map will make our location clear.
2 : a relation to or concern with something I am writing in reference to your advertisement.
3 : the act or an instance of mentioning They made no references to my error.
4 : a work (as a dictionary) that contains useful information
5 : something that refers a reader to another source of information
6 : a person who can be asked for information about another person's character or ability
7 : a written statement about someone's character or ability

reference

adjective
ref·​er·​ence | \ ˈref-(ə-)rən(t)s How to pronounce reference (audio) \

Medical Definition of reference

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: of known potency and used as a standard in the biological assay of a sample of the same drug of unknown strength a dose of reference cod-liver oil

reference

Medical Definition of reference (Entry 2 of 2)

reference

noun
ref·​er·​ence | \ ˈre-frəns, -fə-rəns How to pronounce reference (audio) \

Legal Definition of reference

1 : an act of referring specifically : mention or citation of one document (as a statute) in another a municipality may adopt by reference all or a part of this title Alaska Statutes — see also incorporate
2 : a referral especially to a legislative committee or master also : an order referring a matter to a master the extent to which any party is more responsible than other parties for the reference to a master Federal Rules of Civil Procedure Rule 53(g)

More from Merriam-Webster on reference

Nglish: Translation of reference for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of reference for Arabic Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about reference

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