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 In the essay, the authors reference a study where researchers mixed bad smells with cigarette smoke while daily smokers were asleep. Joshua Hawkins, BGR, 23 Nov. 2021 To that point, your movies reference other works of art very directly. Rachel Handler, Vulture, 20 Nov. 2021 In 2017, Texas’ failed bathroom bill did not actually reference transgender people anywhere in the text, though the legislation aimed to keep trans people from using bathrooms that match their gender identity. Orion Rummler And Kate Sosin, USA TODAY, 17 Nov. 2021 Two other bars reference some of the hotel's most famous guests. Kristen Shirley, Travel + Leisure, 9 Nov. 2021 Conversations about gun violence -- and the ineffectiveness of gun laws -- often reference Chicago, where there are restrictive regulations but a significant level of violence. Celia Darrough, ABC News, 8 Nov. 2021 The team also scanned old hand drawings of vintage pieces and prints for Hays to reference. Frances Solá-santiago, refinery29.com, 19 Oct. 2021 Images of olives, grapes and oranges reference the city’s historically largest crops, with the whole image surrounded by rosary beads meant to represent Spanish missions. Julia Wick Staff Writer, Los Angeles Times, 12 Oct. 2021 However, the TikTok star did reference his photo archive of pieces to refresh his memory. Christian Allair, Vogue, 15 Sep. 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 3 Dec. 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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